After internships at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas and on the Laguarian Sea Coast in Italy, chef Clarke Congdon winged his way to Boston, eventually opening his own restaurant, Clarke's Grill & Sports Emporium. Chef George Zwetkow was trained at the Culinary Institute of America and distills 35 years of experience into each dish he sears, to say nothing of this polyglot's fluency in English, Russian, and Spanish. The third pillar of the eatery, Mike Larkin, gives the establishment its sports aesthetic, having played minor-league hockey for five years before cultivating marketing prowess. Framed jerseys, photos, and sports memorabilia make the walls as athletic as Bo Jackson and are available for love-struck patrons to purchase after sharing a platter of nachos and dreams with an autographed hockey jersey. Plates of the signature fish tacos, topped with creamy chimichurri sauce and fresh cilantro, steal outside onto the sprawling patio. The outdoor space features weekly events including bean-bag tournaments and wine tastings, and flat-screen TVs light up the full bar, displaying both Red Sox and Yankees games to satisfy rival fans without inciting a duel over the remote or with remotes.
In 2002, Mike Southard took a leap of faith worthy of The Dukes of Hazzard. He left a career in the elevator industry and decided to pursue his true passion: stock-car driving. Southard launched Try It Racing and On Track Racing Experience, determined to share with others the thrill he had felt many times in the victory lane of late-model stock-car races. His business has grown from a few humble events and clients each year to a fully packed schedule at some of the country's longest running and most renowned racetracks. Some things haven't changed, however—you can still find Southard behind the wheel of the two-seat ride-along car, taking patrons around curves and straightaways at top speed.
Adrenaline fiends satisfy their cravings while driving or riding around tracks such as Orange County Speedway, where industry legends Jeff Gordon and Scott Riggs have burned their share of rubber. A professional photographer and in-car video cameras can capture the excitement at each event, memorializing guests' wide-open eyes, exhilarated smiles, and high-intensity games of I Spy.
From the long wooden bar at Mackey's American Pub, you can catch a sporting event, some karaoke, or even live music. But even without these draws, crowds would come simply for the pub eats: ribeye steaks glazed in bourbon, crab cake dinners, and burgers served with sauteed mushrooms on a bagel bun. Smoking is allowed on the first floor, though the second-floor stays smoke-free.
Romance is in the air at Carmello's, where diners perch on ivory padded chairs surrounded by the warm tones of exposed brick walls, dark wood, and golden accents. In crafting its dishes of seafood, pasta, and chops from scratch, the kitchen draws on Italian and Portuguese influences. The ingredients are fresh from local purveyors, so the offerings change with the seasons. These dishes can be complemented by selections from the eatery's wine menu—its more than 50 Portuguese wines earned it Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence and two thumbs up from Bob.
Naru Asian Cuisine's chefs blend the traditions of Japanese and Korean cooking over searing woks in the kitchen and behind the curved coolers along the sushi bar. Beneath racks of samurai-style swords, chefs slice and roll up a wide variety of maki rolls and assemble platters of sushi and sashimi in wooden boats, transforming meals into edible dioramas of The Odyssey. From the kitchen, hot hibachi and teriyaki entrees fill plates, and thick udon noodles simmer in bowls filled with clear, flavorful broth.