Otani Japanese Steak & Seafood falls into a familiar rhythm around mealtimes. Chefs man tabletop hibachi grills and sear platefuls of filet mignon, scallops, or chicken right in front of patrons while entertaining them with witty banter, dexterous displays of culinary skill, and their ability to peel shrimp telepathically. Meanwhile, the sushi chefs avoid open flames entirely as they carefully tuck lobster, spring mix, or wasabi aioli into their signature rolls. The entire staff matches the friendly, energetic service of the chefs, striving to greet every guest by name by their second or even first visit.
Warm hardwood covers nearly every inch of Backyard Grill Restaurant’s dining room, with flat-screen televisions sparkling like glittering jewels all along the crown molding. Through these pixel-painted windows, diners glimpse sports action and beloved commercials from across the globe, taking in scored goals, touchdowns, and home runs side by side. Several times a week, arena events give way to electronic trivia nights, live music, and karaoke.
A gargantuan menu holds its own amid the onslaught of entertainment. Chefs use the whole United States and several other corners of the world as their pantry, adding Asian sweet chili or Mediterranean olives to seafood, piling North Carolina–style pork atop a barbecue sandwich, tossing andouille sausage into spicy creole jambalaya pasta, and gently waving an American flag over a bacon cheeseburger. The tot-friendly, easily scrubbed interior is capped by a kids' menu that ranges from grilled cheese to steak.
Fausto Garces gives South American transplants more than one reason to visit his restaurant, Don Churro Café. In addition to authentic dishes from Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and Spain that earned Don Churro Cafè recognition as one of the region's Best New Restaurants by Northern Virginia Magazine in 2009, the restaurant entertains sports fans by broadcasting soccer matches from South American nations. Diners gaze at twin plasma televisions or a pull-down projection screen as athletes play the sport known as "fùtbol" in Latin America, and as "dangerous" in antique stores.
The dining room's yellow walls and floors are offset with royal-blue wall sections, matching seat cushions, and a bright painting of Quito––Fausto's mountain-clad Ecuadorian homeland. Illuminated by hanging light fixtures, lime-marinated ceviche and crispy plantains cleanse the palate before entrees rife with grilled pork belly, chorizo, and certified Angus beef arrive. Fresh, marinated fish filets come grilled alongside rice and patacones or buried beneath a creamy signature seafood sauce.
WaBa's chefs ladle house-made teriyaki sauce over meats striped with grill marks, adding no oil or MSG to any items on the menu. Sweetly marinated ribs pile high atop rice and fresh steamed veggies ($9.99), the same savory underpinnings that form the foundations of chicken plates ($7.99), shrimp skewer plates ($8.99), and most downtown skyscrapers. Party platters multiply servings of meat, providing enough protein to feed gaggles of friends.
The gracious gastronomic engineers at El Fresco Mexican Grill believe firmly that the finest flavors emerge from hand-slicing and hand-crafting their dishes with fresh ingredients. Tasty, generous portions lumber throughout its expansive menu. Homemade salsa and chips come complimentary but could stand a visit from the colorful guacamole ($1.75). Boneless, hand-cut juicy chicken resides inside each chicken-taco platter ($6.95), and every full-flavored soft taco de pollo asado ($2.25). Domesticated cheese, beans, and spinach are at your mouth's command in the veggie quesadilla ($6.49).