Sonoma Chicken Coop began dishing out flavorful fowl in its first restaurant in 2002, and it takes its name from the lauded California wine region and its own signature rotisserie dishes. Now with six locations and more forthcoming nationwide, the award-winning eatery still whips up each menu item from scratch while calling its culinary modus operandi "fast casual." Chefs cook new batches of rotisserie chicken every hour, hand-toss each salad, oven-fire each pizza, concoct sandwiches with homemade focaccia bread, and conclude meals with homemade desserts. A dining room and outdoor patio accommodate visitors, and Sonoma Chicken catering supplies its fire-grilled and specialty cuisine to groups of 10–200 feasters—the same range of people that might show up for a university symposium on talc.
With brightly colored scarves flowing behind her, the belly dancer sways her hips, chiming her finger cymbals as she weaves between tables of diners. This is Café Artemis on Wednesday nights, when guests are treated to this traditional Mediterranean dance alongside their dinners of Turkish and Greek fare.
But even on other nights, there's plenty to draw diners to this welcoming space, where middle-eastern lanterns light up bright murals on the walls. Crispy falafel balls flecked with fresh herbs and stuffed grape leaves highlight the menu's selection of shareable appetizers made from scratch. The chefs grill salmon kebobs over a charcoal pit and bake clay pots filled with ground lamb patties, potatoes, and peppers.
To truly immerse patrons in the dining experience, servers at Café Artemis pour Turkish and Greek wine and beers alongside American craft brews. And outside, an olive tree shades guests sipping sangria and fruit-flavored limonata on an outdoor patio.
For 35 years, streams of loyal customers have flocked to Michi Sushi, savoring the crispy tempura seafood and veggies, the sushi culled form freshly flown-in fish, and savory bowls of udon soup. Like misunderstood genius folk art sculptors, Michi's chefs create traditional products from innovative and inventive ingredients, resulting in dishes such as barbecued eel over beds of macadamia nuts, or Bay Area-themed makis dressed with spicy Korean sauce, tempura crumbs, jalapenos, and avocado. Diners gather amid the restaurant's charming Japanese wood and paper-screen décor to chow down on mango salmon salads and beef teriyaki or order catered feasts for weddings and parties.
It's rare to find a restaurant that grills steaks and burgers exactly how you want them, every time. But Grill 'Em Steakhouse and Bar makes that juicy-on-the-outside, charred-on-the inside dream a reality by putting you, the customer, behind the grill. It's all the tender perfection of grilled-at-home meats without the cleanup.
Grill-it-Yourself Burgers and Steaks
Grill 'Em's 6' x 2.5'-foot communal grill is a carnivore's eden where patrons focus on the cooking—and the kinship. Quaff a beverage and chat with friends as you cook a thick burger or juicy steak to your ideal temperature: medium, well done, or rare pink, if that's your pleasure. Besides classic beef patties, burgers also come stuffed with cheese or made with bison meat or vegetarian beans. Refer to Grill 'Em's guide to learn the details of their premium steak cuts, which include rib eye, top sirloin, new york strip, and filet mignon.
The Green Stuff: Salads and Sides
Of course, man doesn't live by filet mignon alone. While you're grilling, Grill' Em's kitchen churns out sides such as baked potatoes, mac and cheese, and sauteed veggies to pair with your meal. Servers can deliver an order of pot stickers and wings to your table as you sit down with your perfectly griddled burger. Chow down as you play tiddly-winks with sandwich pickles or watch the game on one of Grill 'Em's 10 large-screen HDTVs.
Every day, the aroma of smoky spices wafts from the imported, wood-fired tandoor ovens at Tandoori Oven’s locations. To a soundtrack of upbeat techno, reggae, and bhangra music imported from UK clubs, servers deliver plates of lamb biryani loaded with basmati rice, bell peppers, cashews, and secret spices alongside mango lassis blended with housemade yogurt. The healthful signature wrap is stuffed with chicken or lamb that’s been marinated for 24 hours in yogurt and spices and then baked in the tandoor oven and wrapped in soft naan with mint chutney and tamarind. Local athletes dine at Tandoori Oven, a sponsor of the TRIbe Triathlon Club, after workouts for meals made to order with lean meats and served in participation trophies.
Open every night until 3 a.m., Taco Bravo caters mainly to the late-night crowd and hungry sleepwalkers. The menu is posted above the register and offers everything you’d expect from a fast-food taqueria, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and Super nachos, one of the most popular items. On a nice night, customers can even eat outdoors on a picnic table or bench.