A silence settles over the typically boisterous bar as eyes fixate on the TV set, where the ball hangs in midair before carrying over the fence, falling through the hoop, or landing in the arms of a receiver. Before long, the silence explodes into cheers, and glasses clink together as more rounds of beer make their way to the tables.
This is a common scene at Happy’s Grille, where sports fans of all stripes and allegiances assemble to watch games while savoring 50-cent appetizers, hearty pub sandwiches, and domestic and premium beers. The nightly crowd lingers long after the final buzzer Thursday–Sunday, when DJs spin danceable hits and live bands rile up the crowd with guitar solos, thumping bass lines, and melodic recitations of the game’s play-by-play broadcast. Open seven days a week, Happy’s Grille keeps midweek crowds entertained with live karaoke and, of course, numerous televised sporting events.
A true gastropub, The Pub at Chino Hills sits at the intersection of friendly watering hole and upscale restaurant. A crowd often forms around its wooden bar, where the staff pours 20 draft brews and well over that number in bottles and cans?including European-style dark ales. Flat-screen TVs give other patrons something to look at between sips of craft cocktails and wines from around the world. And on special nights, a musician might even show up to perform and then disappear into a puff of rum-scented smoke.
As for food, co-owners and chefs Andrew Faour and Mathew Carpenter rely on ingredients including USDA Prime meat, market-fresh fish, and cheese sourced from around the world. With those edible tools, they create lunch and dinner menus that start with small plates such as fried pork-belly bites. From there, the tour de taste can move on to meatloaf and steak entrees, or perhaps burgers with house-made pickles and patties that can take the form of beef, buffalo, or salmon. There's just one thing missing to complete the meal: one of the pub's signature desserts, such as gelato or homemade cookies.
Although it now has more than 430 locations in 28 countries, Hooters wasn’t always welcomed by the public. In fact, when it opened in October 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, the founders of the restaurant were “quickly detained for impersonating restaurateurs,” according to the company's website. But the restaurant was able to prove it was more than just a pretty face—that it was serious about serving tasty American food and frosty brews—and its popularity exploded in the decades to follow.
Amid its beach-themed vibe and flat-screen TVs, Hooters still fuels appetites with original chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Of course, nobody carries those casual eats and icy pitchers better than the Hooters girls. To complement their friendly smiles, their uniforms harken back to the ones the original waitresses wore in 1983: orange hot shorts and white tank tops with the emblematic owl on the front—though that owl has lost its Lionel Richie perm.
Indian cuisine is famously complex, but diners at Koyla Indian Restaurant get at least a peek at how it's prepared. The restaurant's signature cooking method is right in the name—koyla means "coal"—and chefs use its heat in full view within an open kitchen. Cinnamon and cloves, garlic and saffron fill the air as marinated chicken, shrimp, and goat simmer and sizzle. Although grounded in the cuisine of Northern India, founder Deep Singh and his chefs demonstrate a strong taste for experimentation. That's evident in the large menu's Indo-Chinese section, which holds hybrids such as chili paneer—the traditional Indian cheese spiked with house-made chili sauce. Pesto chicken and calamari masala reflect Singh's time as the proprietor of a small Italian cafe.
A mural of an especially cuddly-looking Taj Mahal brightens one wall of Koyla's softly-lit dining room. The motif continues as painted chili peppers wind around the room behind an ample buffet, served alongside champagne on the weekends.
Bonafede-family matriarch Anita started JoJo's Pizza Kitchen more than four decades ago, and her discerning taste for ingredients is still identifiable in the menu. Though her son Joe, who napped on flour sacks in the back of the restaurant as a child, now runs the eatery, fresh basil and plum tomatoes grown in Stanislaus County still release aromas that hint at sun-soaked furrows. Through a dining room window, guests catch glimpses of chefs tossing freshly risen dough for pizzas or smaller chefs for their adorable giggles. They grate fresh parmesan cheese as wine cooks slowly down with mushrooms on the stovetop and chicken marinates in lemon and garlic. Servers bustle past, filling glasses with house wines or draft beers.