Behind a blue-lit bar, mixologist Antonio Lara shakes together tequila, mescal, and rum with anything from pasteurized egg whites to agave nectar, all in the name of classic Latin cocktails. Guests sip these drinks and evaluate fellow diners? facial-hair choices at small, candlelit tables, which sit beneath sprawling, graffiti-inspired artwork. To supplement cocktails, executive chef Henry Lopez Jr. has crafted a menu of Pan-Latin cuisine, including jibaritos, beef or chicken sandwiched between fried plantains, or fritas cubanas, beef and chorizo sliders topped with fried string potatoes.
Silvery tendrils of smoke steeped with notes of mandarin, guava, and 16 other hookah flavors uncurl across La Boheme Lounge, where silverware jingles against plates of Italian-influenced dishes. Under the discerning eye of the owner—a professional music producer—DJs spin chill, ambient, lounge, and house music that serves as a rumbling sonic backdrop on two floors. Groups perch atop velvety, merlot-hued seats around low-topped black tables laden with espresso drinks and cocktails, or migrate to the private party room to admire the aquarium or rescue friends trapped by overly chatty fish.
Steampunk ornamentation colors Georgian-era furnishings at Downhouse, an ornate hangout where vivid fluorescents melt over evocative murals, progressive artwork, and vintage accents. The creative menu complements the unique interior with house-made crepes and made-to-order demi sandwiches piled with veal tongue, roast beef, and lightly cured salmon. With stomachs sated, patrons can peruse the calendar for any number of live events, from tango dancing on Tuesdays to the disc- and bowtie-spinning talents of a DJ on the weekends.
Kick-start a tapas feeding frenzy by first biting a fellow diner and secondly ordering some of Ooba's fusion of Spanish and American cuisine. Bring on a platter of churrasco con papas fritas with chimichurri sauce (sliced skirt steak and french fries, $12.95); the crisp, tender pollo rebozado (chicken tenders with honey-mustard sauce, $7.95); or the camarones Diablo (shrimp sautéed in spicy red-pepper sauce, $8.95). Quench ensuing thirst by splitting a pitcher of Ooba sangria ($30, or $7 a glass) with your friends, or double your fun with a liquid Blond Bombshell (amaretto, vodka, sour, and pineapple juice, $9) to complement the meal. Ooba jazzes up boring mastication with special events, including Comedy Wednesdays every other week, hookah hook-ing Thursday through Saturday, Latin music on Friday with an in-house DJ, a lounge-bound DJ on Saturday, and a fizzbin tournament every third Tuesday that occurs on a new moon.
The original Clover Club was an actual club—for decades, a group of Philadelphia writers met once a month at the Bellevue Hotel to eat, drink, and heckle their noteworthy guests. Today, the Clover Club is an actual bar, where guests marvel at a thoughtful collection of craft cocktails. A background story introduces each category of drinks, educating sippers about the history of the julep or the exact difference between a Collins and a fizz. Guests can take advantage of seasonal creations or stick with updated classics such as a gin blossom with apricot eau de vie, bianco vermouth, and orange bitters. GQ selected the bar as one of their 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America, saying “what makes Clover Club better than other turn-of-the-century style joints is that all of that oldness never overshadows a Brooklyn-style casualness”. This balance of refinement and informality is especially evident in the food menu: gruyere and white cheddar sophisticate mac ‘n’ cheese, and five ounces of lean lamb meat elevate a goat-cheese burger. For brunch, Clover’s chefs slice up three styles of bacon for a small tasting plate or to be woven into a great-smelling napkin, and cure Scottish salmon in-house to be served with potato cakes and poppy-seed crème fraiche. A supplemental list of brunch cocktails includes bloody marys with house-made mix and lilac fizzes with gin, Crème Yvette, lemon, and egg white.