The sound of fire. The igniting exhalation before the steady breath of the flame sustains. The heat pulsing steadily outward from the steel grill—you feel it on your glowing face. But the chef looks cool. He’s a master, after all; a flat, metal spatula in one hand and an enormous, sharp knife in the other. Kani House’s teppanyaki tables are no strangers to the action of hibachi, where these chefs entertain their guests before plating seared steak and scallops alongside fresh, sautéed vegetables. The steady sushi masters may not share their compatriots’ outward exuberance, but their work is just as delicious. From behind their long bar, they assemble maki cylinders with tender cuts of fatty tuna and bright salmon, artfully arranging cuts of more than 50 specialty rolls in the shape of gentle caterpillars or fearsome members of the Japanese Diet. Bright bamboo panels and natural stone add to the vibrant ambiance, surrounding diners with dark-wood and nuanced accents that keep the focus on the beauty of excellent cuisine.
Hailing from opposite ends of the country, Chef McDowell from Los Angeles and local culinary guru Chef Raffi team up to craft their Mediterranean menu amid warm, golden hues and live weekend entertainment. Using regional ingredients in many of their dishes, the duo layers flavors to bring their guests a taste of the Mediterranean's signatures, including lamb, polenta, kebabs, and a variety of seafood. As belly dancers shimmy and sparkle between tables each Saturday evening, diners sip wines such as Chateau Ste. Michelle's cabernet sauvignon from the eatery's carefully compiled wine list while savoring a tapas plate of crispy, caramelized pork or an entree of baked, boneless roasted lamb. For special occasions or a simple get-together with friends, the restaurant's patio invites groups to partake in the indulgence of a hookah while relishing the open-air ambiance and cheshire grins of mischievous squirrels.
If 1967 was the Summer of Love, 1969 was the Summer of Pizza. At least it was for 12-year-old Keith Appling, who helped his father open the original Dooley’s Pizza. Although Keith eventually left town for a baking and military career that spanned 30 years, he returned to his roots in 2010 by launching Dooley’s Southern Stone Pizza Kitchen. Using high-protein flour and spring water, Keith and his fellow cooks make all their hand-tossed dough from scratch. From there, they add the diner's choice of more than 40 customizable ingredients—which range from house-made tomato sauce to sun-dried tomatoes and avocado—then bake each pie "on the stone." The culinary team likewise crafts more than 15 specialty pizzas, including the Florentine—Alfredo based with chicken, spinach, fresh garlic, and mushrooms.
At Goad Barbecue Company, barbecue sauce is considered an accessory. That's because the culinary team, headed by general manager Michael Goad, relies on an hours-long, Texas-style slow-smoking process to imbue meat with juicy flavor. Those savory proteins—sliced brisket, pulled pork, chopped chicken, and Thanksgiving-flaunting turkey—are then piled atop sandwiches, dished out into combo meals, or packaged by the pound. Goad's team makes a handful of other comfort-food entrees, too, including smoked meatloaf and tender pork ribs. The restaurant accompanies its meaty mains with classic southern sides, such as jalapeno corn muffins and southwestern corn casserole.
Welcoming guests from all walks of life, Red Sky Neighborhood Grill invites families to its booths, friends to its barstools, and coworkers to its tables to dine on a wide selection of American favorites. In the kitchen, cooks carve 14-ounce rib-eye steaks, fry shrimp, and grill Atlantic salmon. Sets of four mini cheeseburgers attempt to contain a house specialty sauce, and half-pound Angus burgers bathe in barbecue sauce topped with bacon or hoist melty pimento cheese. Guests enjoy all of this in an earth-toned dining room featuring a sprawling, colorful mural of hot air balloons filled with air from the mouths of politicians.