Zaika Restaurant, Bar & Lounge dispatches halal meat and vegetarian Indian dishes to tables perched around a hardwood wraparound bar as patrons sink into petite leather chairs and plush booths. Diners savor lamb, chicken, and seafood that has been skewered, marinated in zesty blends, and seared in a traditional tandoor oven like Shrinky Dink maps of India crafted for PhD dissertations in geography. A painstakingly curated wine list, including organic libations, accentuates exotic flavors while six big-screen TVs and one behemoth 80-inch projection screen display athletic showdowns.
Shattuck's massive 20'x40' dance floor, sublime lighting, and comfortable booths, couches, and tables set the stage for the extermination of boredom and the complete and utter devastation of faces by the forces of rocking. Past performers on Shattuck's stage include Mos Def and Method Man; check the events for upcoming musical acts such as Katchafire and The English Beat, as well as DJs spinning funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, salsa, and tender flugelhorn ballads. Fuel your brain with the rhythms as you fill your tank with $6 specialty cocktails, such as Shattuck's island delight (Malibu and Absolut with a splash of orange juice and pineapple juice), Jameson and cola, or an amorously inviting Absolut love machine (Absolut ruby red, pomegranate liqueur, and orange juice).
Marc 49 serves up a fresh menu starring a savory cast of Italian-influenced appetizers, bruschette, salads, and paninis to accompany the lengthy list of libations. Pass a plate of the house-marinated mixed olives ($4) or share the meat and cheese plate ($9) among a gaggle of good friends. The fresh-shucked Buckley or Chesapeake oysters ($2 each/$20 per dozen) offer a sensational taste of sea for first dates, second dates, or "does this count as a date?" dates, while the menu's seven salads ($6) promise to fill any mouth with an elegant mélange of greens. Put Marc 49’s wine bar to the test by pairing any of the simple yet flavorful bites with grown-up grape juice, available by the glass ($7+), bottle ($24+), or flight ($11 for three 2 oz. tastes).
Meridian's seasonal menu draws inspiration from global bar bites made from all-natural and locally grown ingredients. Start with an order of bacon mac ‘n’ cheese with buttered panko ($8) or the almond-breaded cod fingers served with jalapeño tartar sauce ($12). For a refreshing post-triathlon meal, opt for the togarashi ahi-tuna niçoise salad with capers, tomatoes, Humboldt fog, and sesame-orange vinaigrette ($14) or quell carnivorous cravings with an all-natural beef burger served with cheddar or blue cheese ($9). The grilled bangers and mash ($13) will evoke sweet childhood memories of playing hopscotch outside the smoky pubs of Bangladesh and also will serve as a delicious stomach stretcher for a third course of sticky toffee pudding ($6) or a house-made ice-cream sandwich with mocha sauce ($6).
In 1941, Wilma and Henry Dorsey opened a modest family eatery on the corner of 18th and Market in West Oakland. Over the next four decades, devoted family members transformed the place with a relocation, the addition of a cocktail lounge, and the construction of a beautiful wooden bar. Today, Dorsey family members remain the sole shareholders of a bustling restaurant that celebrates their Texas roots with country-style meals of fried chicken, catfish, gumbo, barbecue ribs, and sweet peach cobbler. A rotating weekly menu makes fresh additions to the slate of hearty, homecooked food with such dishes as chitterlings and smothered steak, while sides of collard greens, yams, and black-eyed peas garnish every dish with Southern panache.
Far more than a mere restaurant, Dorsey's Locker also treats guests to a full bar and lineup of live entertainment. On Sunday nights from 6 p.m until 10 p.m., the restaurant waives a cover charge for live R&B and jazz music. Open mic events each Tuesday show off the hidden talents of friends and neighbors, while Monday, Thursday, and Saturday-night karaoke provides a socially acceptable outlet for singing a love song to a plate of breaded pork chops.
Those who shudder at the thought of a stuffy "dinner and dancing" date will be pleasantly surprised at Infusion Lounge. The surprises begin on the menu, a roster of Pan-Asian food created by Chef Evan Turner. Finger foods such as mini burgers slathered with wasabi aioli graduate into refined entrees, such as tea-scented coconut ribs with papaya-mango salad. The cocktail list similarly refreshes the senses, with lychee liqueur and purée adding an Eastern element to the classic bellini and bartenders spicing lemon-drop cocktails with a hint of ginger liqueur. The dining room's decor matches the striking menu; dim, red lighting casts an otherworldly glow over translucent columns as diners converse at white-clothed tables.
All dinner guests receive a complimentary entry to Infusion's dance floor, yet another mod, surreal space. Here, orange and red neon light illuminates abstract, green latticework reminiscent of the vines in Pablo Picasso's garden. A steady stream of DJs and live music keeps feet moving, proving why Infusion Lounge was named an Open Table Diners’ Choice winner in the Good for Groups and Vibrant Bar Scene categories.