Cooks at The Flinn Springs Inn sizzle up hearty pub grub, including cheeseburgers and tacos, as tap masters pour cold draft beers or expertly mix cocktails within a bar and grill replete with exposed-brick walls and leather-topped barstools. Guests can play a game of billiards inside, or make their way to the sprawling outdoor patio to watch live music and college-level math lectures on the stage or hurl horseshoes in the regulation pits. After dancing, singing karaoke, or playing beer pong all night, patrons can return the next morning for pancakes and bloody marys.
The scene behind Main Tap Tavern's bar would be right at home in an art gallery. A unique glass handle tops each of the 24 taps in glowing, swirling colors that span the gnarliest rainbow imaginable. An impressive sight to be sure, but it's what comes out of the tap that keeps patrons lining up at bar stools or grabbing seats on the patio.
The bartenders specialize in craft beer, with a focus on local microbreweries. For a change of pace, they also mix up cocktails and crack open bottles of wine, champagne, and?of course?more beer.
Chances are, whatever drink a customer chooses will pair nicely with something on the tavern's food menu, which features street food such as tacos as well as updated pub favorites. For an example of the chefs' creativity, look no further than the workman peanut butter burger: a handmade angus beef patty topped with smoked bacon, cheese, and peanut butter.
El Cajon Grand has been keeping the tradition of the neighborhood pub alive since 1950, and today it's still a great spot to nurse a drink while watching the big game. Inside the newly remodeled, 3,500-square-foot space, post up near one of nine flat-screen TVs or head outside to the patio for a leisurely game of horseshoe. Nightly specials include deals on appetizer baskets and craft beers and well drinks from the bar.
Chtaura Mediterranean Restaurant treats its visitors to a feasts of hot and cold mezzes, beef and lamb kabobs, and sizzling plates of steak. Guests savor charbroiled lamb chops, spicy Lebanese beef kibbe, and creamy hummus dip, paired with earthy wisps of flavored smoke from a hookah pipe. On weekends, singers croon Arabic tunes and live DJs spin pounding tracks. That music animates belly dancers, who hypnotize diners with graceful movements. They can even light the entire bar on fire, forcing guest to choose to watch the dancers, the fire, or the sudden flock of moths.
While trekking across New Zealand, Matt Baker and PJ Lamont stumbled upon a burger shack in Queenstown and immediately became addicted to the eatery?s organic, grass-fed beef patties. According to a profile in Beach & Bay Press, the duo often dined there more than once a day and eventually convinced the chef to both part with his recipes and train them how to make them. Upon returning home, the pair recruited PJ?s brother Martin for their budding endeavor: a gourmet burger place that would rely entirely on organic, grass-fed beef from New Zealand.
The menu quickly garnered its fair share of media buzz and awards by combining beef patties, ground fresh daily, with unique ingredients such as pesto aioli, grilled pineapple, and beetroot. Organic, local vegetables make up the condiments and the house tomato chutney, New Zealand?s hardier version of ketchup. But Bare Back Grill does more than burgers, satisfying appetites with natural chicken and lamb, tempura tofu, and seared ahi tuna coupled with a wide selection of beers and wines. Guests can gulp down Kiwi Steinlagers or sip Australian and New Zealand wines while lounging at either Bare Back location.
Every day at Toast Enoteca & Cucina, Mario Gonzalez performs a brilliant balancing act between tradition and innovation. Having trained in Italy under renowned chefs, he's mastered the fundamentals of Italian cooking, and his expertise shines in homemade pastas, sauces, and breads. However, his knack for experimentation has also led to modern showstoppers, such as pizza topped with octopus ragu. These meals have made his name synonymous with San Diego's Italian food scene?and secured him a job as a caterer for the San Diego Padres whenever the team has trouble firing up the dugout smoker.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Gonzalez's balancing act, however, is the wine. Toast has up to 400 wines on its award-winning list, with varietals from New Zealand, Argentina, Germany, and Spain in addition to Italy. But this classic accompaniment to dinner is often delivered in what looks like a science-fiction device: an Enomatic machine, designed to pour wine by the glass while keeping it fresh within the bottle.