Senses come alive when sitting on the plush red couches at Kasbah Hookah Lounge. The sounds of DJs spinning tracks sync with the rhythmic movements of exotically clad belly dancers roaming from table to table, weaving through clouds of aromatic hookah smoke. Customers can puff on more than 85 flavor combinations of the house’s 24 Starbuzz shishas, including classic options such as mango, or pairings such as honey, vanilla, and mint. The house also crafts their own signature blends for the five VIP flavors, including cinnamon toast crunch, which pairs apple, cinnamon, and banana. Bottles of wine and pints of beer accompany hookahs on the table, providing all of the fillers for a comfortable night out without having to lug around childhood teddy bears.
Executive Chef Dana Oddo draws from culinary skills cultivated from his time in the Memphis barbecue scene at Fuego Picante, where she fuses modern Mexican food with smokehouse barbecue fare. The restaurant's decor mirrors this savory synthesis, playfully blending sophisticated light fixtures and streamlined furnishings with whimsical flourishes, such as a mural of a cowboy. This serves as the perfect setting for Chef Oddos' warm and contemporary fare: tamales, chicken taquitos, and shrimp Creole all share menu space with mojitos that are freshly squeezed from the fruit of the 80-proof-rum tree.
Chef Ricardo Cardona might be from El Salvador, but that doesn’t mean his cooking sticks to tradition. At Mamajuana Café, he draws on more than 25 years of cooking to build his modern cuisine on a foundation of his homeland’s centuries-old cooking traditions. And it seems like his efforts have paid off: his Nuevo Latino dishes, which also prominently feature Dominican flavors, earned the eatery a Critics’ Pick designation from New York magazine. All that attention might be on account of the chef’s inventive flavor combinations, such as sweet plantains stuffed with salted cod, chicken-tempura sushi rolls, and Cornish game hen topped with diced chorizo and lobster. In the dining space, tufted leather banquettes run along the wall just beneath studio lighting and backlit artwork. Bright red and earth-tone curtains give the room a clublike vibe, which set the tone for when diners take to the dance floor between courses.
The bartenders at The Drunken Penguin boost spirits with a slew of drink specials and a limited but affordable menu of pub fare. An Internet jukebox pumps tunes throughout the bar's two floors as patrons hit the dance floor, chug digital pellets on a classic Pac-Man arcade machine, and cheer for their favorite zamboni drivers during NHL broadcasts on six TVs. Each night of the week highlights different specials and themes, from beer-pong tournaments on Tuesday to six-hour Texas Hold 'em marathons on Sunday night.
The gastronomic gurus at Manhattan Bar & Lounge populate a menu with upscale American dishes and small plates. Diners can smother stomach fires with a cold antipasto plate, which comes adorned with a trio of italian meats—prosciutto, sopressata, and genoa salami—as well as fresh olives and artichokes ($12). A collection of handheld treats, including an herb-roasted tomato flatbread ($14) and a ham-and-mozzarella panini ($9), keeps rabble-rousing fingers from initiating unsolicited thumb wars, and the baby arugula salad ($9) turns plates into a garden of fresh flavors. On the sweeter side, velvety double-chocolate-mousse cake ($7) and creamy tiramisu ($7) follow up main courses and make uvulas swoon. Throughout meals, diners employ their full set of senses by admiring the dark wooden décor and relishing live music and performances from entertainers such as cover bands, belly dancers, and waiter impersonators.
Out on the sunny patio during warmer months, or tucked into a cozy leather booth in the winter, visitors to RJ Daniels American Bar & Grill are sure to find comfort, straight down to the food. During dinner, customers can kick off meals with a classic shrimp cocktail before building a custom burger, or slicing into tender strip steak in a red-wine mushroom sauce. RJ Daniels also serves lunch and weekend brunch, ideal for lazily enjoying crab-cakes benedict or steak and eggs with a hot, fresh-brewed cup of coffee.