Shrimp is the signature dish at Seafood Bucket, where chefs season prawns to each customer's specifications and heap them onto plates by the pound. Cajun spices, Thai seasonings, and garlic butter are but three of the tastes that grace the shrimp, which can also be used to customize pounds of clams, mussels, and crawfish. Thailand's culinary traditions extend past seafood to inspire dishes such as panang chicken and red-curry chicken, and the tastes of Louisiana infuse fried catfish that arrives with the obligatory Cajun fries.
Entrepreneur Smita Salgaonkar has crafted Indian-inspired ice creams for more than 10 years at the brightly pigmented Saffron Spot shop, scooping more than two dozen exotic flavors into cups and cones. The signature saffron silk flavor sings notes of rose and pistachio as it melts in mouths, while fruity blends such as guava and jackfruit roll around the edges of the tongue like flavorful marbles. Milk shakes join any ice-cream flavor with milk and straws, while hot drinks include coffee beverages and almond-flavored badam milk.
The culinary guides at Pickles Indian Cuisine wield a menu that catalogs a wealth of traditional tandoori dishes and vegetarian-friendly fare. Hone flavor-sensing devices on appetizers such as avocado papadi chat, which unites crest wafers and sweet potatoes with garbanzo beans plus tamarind and mint chutneys ($6.99). Meanwhile, the lamb vindaloo binds together a mélange of coconut, vinegar, and hot chili peppers with potatoes ($12.99) to obliterate hunger like a bulldozer clearing a forest of Styrofoam. Or pair a palak paneer—which incorporates creamed spinach with garlic, cumin, and paneer ($10.99)—with a mango, sweet, or salt lassi beverage ($4).
At Tava Grill and Lounge, owner and chef Punita Patel infuses her seasonal menu with Indian flavors and fresh, local ingredients. The paneer fajita tacos, for instance, ooze authenticity along with housemade cilantro mint chutney that can double as smelling salts for a food-comatose date. The seafood biryani paella evokes both India and Spain with a blend of shrimp, mussels, squid, and crab in a creamy curry sauce.
A separate menu in the lounge marries the food of India and California, as the atmosphere fuses nightclub and fine-dining establishment. Beside a softly lit bar, benches and ottomans are scattered around low tables, which break up regular tables and booths without the staff having to dig trenches around each.