Maya Angelou knows why the caged bird sings, but at Side Bar the more relevant question is why the caged DJ spins. Suspended above the dance floor in the ultra lounge’s enormous birdcage, DJs flanked by sensual go-go dancers blast an onslaught of dance hits, a spectacle that has earned the club mentions by Us Weekly, 944 Magazine, and NBC San Diego. A series of smaller birdcages also dangle from the lofted ceiling, floating above a sprawl of mismatched leather booths and velvet couches. At the bar, head bartender Isaac Krejci crafts a steady stream of his signature cocktails, while staffers deliver bottle service to patrons in VIP booths. On breaks from the dance floor, night owls can recharge their robotic hip-swiveling leg braces with plates of bar food such as wings, specialty pizzas, and strombolis.
Executive chef Aaron Venezuela helms a cadre of culinary wizards to assemble La Fiesta's menu of fresh seafood and authentic regional dishes. Limber chomping muscles with appetizers such as toritos ($8.50 lunch; $10.95 dinner), which fill four mild yellow chilies with a duet of crab and shrimp that sings sea shanties on its way down the esophagus. Deep-fried chimichangas ($15.95 dinner) stuffed with chicken or beef turn the familiarity of a burrito on its head while the carnitas uruapan combines tender chunks of pork, cooked slowly in the traditional Mexican style, with an entourage of red onions, lime, and cilantro ($12.95 lunch; $16.95 dinner). Seafood dishes such as the pescado azteca ($16.95 lunch; $19.95 dinner), which drizzles its pan roasted mahi-mahi and tequila-flamed prawn with a roasted poblano pepper sauce, allows diners to sample the flavors of the Gulf without the hassle of raiding an orca's pantry. Post-meal cool-downs begin with mexican churros sidled up next to Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce ($7.95 dinner).
Red C Lounge's no-frills show posters promise two things: chest-pounding beats and plenty of drinks. DJs deliver those beats in a variety of styles, delving into the jazz-influenced rhythms of deep house on Tuesdays or sampling the long-forgotten hooks of obscure soul or jazz on Rare Groove Fridays. The bartenders also offer a variety of drink service, sliding gin cocktails to customers seated on bar stools or providing bottle service for those who stake a claim to a table by draping their pants over a chair.
Sooner or later, your girlfriend is going to figure out that all those fancy restaurants are just your bedroom redecorated with a new elaborate disguise each week. Today's Groupon will help you postpone the inevitable by throwing a real fancy restaurant into the mix. For $20, you’ll get $45 worth of sophisticated American fare and drinks at Fifth Avenue’s Urban Bar and Grill. Your taste buds will leap for joy under the spell of live entertainment, an extended happy hour, and pleasing tableware.
Zen Cafe’s chefs have honed the art of inventive hand rolls, working in the media of seaweed, sushi rice, and fresh fish. Serious dinner diners can loosen up chopstick implants with manila-fried chicken skewers ($7) or a sashimi trifecta of maguro, hamachi, and nama sake pieces ($16). Wrapped-up eight-piece edibles include the assertive Seal the Deal roll ($11), stocked with crab and avocado before being deep-fried and decorated with shrimp, avocado, and eel sauce, and the classic california roll ($7). Brave eaters can conquer the Godzilla roll ($11), loaded with spicy tuna and tempura-fried, then garnished with a seaweed salad, seared tuna, and sriracha—a traditional sauce made from sun-ripened chilis and one-a-day whale vitamins. Swigs of Midori melon sake ($7) soothe hard-tasting tongues, and creamy swallows of white-chocolate-glazed ricotta cheesecake ($5) prep throats for singing to tunes on the dance floor.