Surrounded by Winetopia's brick-laden walls, visitors sample a succinct selection of tapas, absorb the notes of live music and karaoke, and explore the flavors of rare wines gathered from around the world. In the dining room, the arched tops of built-in wine cabinets fit snugly into exposed-brick walls, and the chatter of guests clustered around intimate tables syncs with the clinks of wineglasses alighting on a granite-top bar. A menu of small plates romances appetites with everything from light snacks, such as marcona almonds and indian popcorn, to more substantial morsels, including veggie samosas. Plates strewn with various cheeses find companionship in chatty napkins and the sweet notes of fresh fruit or the deep flavor of assorted cold cuts. The rotating selection of more than 200 small-production wines overrides the need for a formal list, so instead sommeliers pilot patrons through vinos imported from New Zealand, South Africa, Oregon, and Argentina. The less traveled can charter entire flights of wine or sign up for a tasting class, or eschew grapey spirits altogether for one of the bar’s 59 domestic or imported beers.
Chefs at Aztecas Margarita Bar & Grill prepare a full menu of authentic Mexican fare including guacamole made to order, dark mole poblano sauces, and fresh ceviche. The pollo Azteca—marinated and chargrilled chicken breast with Azteca sauce, grilled onions, and chili con queso—ignites palates with more flavor and fewer missing teeth than chewing firecrackers. Meanwhile, mariscos mex-tex enchiladas with sautéed shrimp and crab topped with house-made ancho poblano cream sauce follow up orders of Azteca nachos and twice-fried, cheese-filled jalapeños rellenos. The red, green, and yellow walls adorned with exposed bricks and flat-screen TVs surround diners during the day and dancers twirling to live music or DJs throughout the night. Behind the full bar, bartenders pour signature margaritas, frozen or on the rocks, infused with fruit flavors such as guava or mango. An outdoor patio holds additional seating for dining alfresco or picnicking without bears.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
At The Mezzanine Lounge, a sports-oriented upstairs and a lower-level lounge stack atop each other inside the double-decker bar that Citysearch named Best Sports Bar in 2008 and 2009. The kitchen, like the bar, stays open until 2 a.m. daily, grilling chicken tenders and fresh half-pound patties for burgers such as the Twisted Texas burger, slathered in spicy barbecue sauce and topped with jalapeños. DIRECTV and other cable packages wire round the clock sports coverage to the bars’ more than 30 TVs sprinkled artfully throughout the venue, supplying clear sightlines from anywhere, including the restrooms. Between strolls to the covered patio, patrons can aim cues atop red felt pool tables and drop quarters into an internet-capable jukebox, which stocks more than 150 CDs and can download further titles or add fictitious Grammy wins to Percy Sledge’s Wikipedia page.
Thick branches of 140-year-old oak trees stretch above Live Oak Bar and Grill, shrouding its wooden outdoor patio in a gentle blanket of leafy shade. The patio stands behind the restaurant itself, a home built in 1876 that is still decorated with photos of its original occupants and recent shots of their poltergeists.
And while the building itself is steep in century old history, the grill's cooks prefer to use ingredients whose age doesn’t match Live Oak's historic surrounds. Instead, they source fresh, natural ingredients from local farms to create their homestyle versions of classic bar dishes, from half-pound burgers to fish tacos smothered with jalapeno ranch dressing. Feasts unfold amidst rounds of billiards, sports flashing on flat-screen TVs, and weekly karaoke, while outside, live musicians occasionally take to the stage to serenade diners.
At Skol Casbar & Grille, flames waft aromas of sizzling steaks, fish fillets, and sandwiches to tables where patrons pore over a full menu. Grilled catfish, salmon, and pork chops can be topped with a choice of grilled onions, tomatoes, or mushrooms, and sides such as blackened green beans and garlic potatoes let patrons surprise their mouths without hiding a firecracker in their napkin. Skol Steak Mondays sate twosomes by layering plates with a duo of steaks, garlic mashed potatoes, salads, and drinks.
Skol Casbar & Grille also equips catered events and in-house parties on the restaurant's patio. A selection of barbecue, Mexican, and Italian dishes fuel conversation and can easily be consumed while celebrating birthdays or hosting model U.N. meetings.