Saluda's Restaurant celebrates many histories. Its solid mahogany bar was part of Philadelphia's Blakely Hotel in the late 1800s, its walls sport vintage European posters advertising festive drinks, and its menu pays homage to timeless Southern staples, from shrimp and grits to artfully grilled rib eyes. Perhaps the greatest nod to the past is the building itself, which was constructed after World War I as a VFW officers club. There, veterans would gather to carouse and reminisce, fostering a convivial tradition that Saluda's has since restored and nurtured.
Executive chef Blake Fairies fuels the animated atmosphere with dishes whose down-home roots benefit from French and Italian influences. His prime concern is freshness—in an interview with Undefined magazine, he revealed how his fish du jour is often prepped the day after his friend Mark, a member of Abundant Seafood in Charleston, lures it onto his boat with promises of a free tropical time share. Like much of the kitchen's produce, chef Blake’s flash-fried green tomatoes come from local farms, and his entrees incorporate seasonal ingredients to complement ones imported from across the world. The results are plates that blend classic taste with inventive zest: steaks in black-truffle butter, helpings of handmade pasta, and pork chops brined in sweet tea. At the bar, guests can peruse more than 300 wines as well as cocktails and small-batch bourbon.
The culinary team at Tsunami fixes up a veritable feast for the eyes with artfully plated Japanese delicacies festooned with sprigs of herbs, splashes of sauce, and colorful garnishes. Flames rage as hibachi chefs blast rib-eye steaks, scallops, and vegetables on their sizzling grills, and the restaurant’s sushi-rolling savants coil specialty rolls such as the Emperor, which surprises tasters with hidden stashes of fried soft-shell crab, cucumber, eel, shrimp, and avocado. At Tsunami's four locations, diners polish off plates in a sleek, modern dining room with candles in faceted glass votives, a bar backlit with lights that slowly change colors, and waiters who can speak fluent binary code.
Tokyo Grill’s chefs stand over sizzling grills, their furrowed brows illuminated by the dancing flames as they speedily prepare food that blends hibachi flavors with fast and casual dining. With swiftness and precision, they grill fresh vegetables alongside juicy strips of steak, cuts of chicken, and plump jumbo shrimp, then quickly plate the still-steaming meats atop beds of rice speckled with wedges of zucchini, slices of onion, and traces of fairy dust. Elsewhere in the kitchen, sushi chefs are equally hard at work, folding crabmeat and crisp cucumbers into sushi rolls.
Marinoni's Restaurant and Pizzeria's chefs whip up authentic, homemade Italian dishes and pizzas. In addition to wood-firing pies, they insert 8-ounce salmon filets into the brick oven, imbuing each bite with a smoky, robust flavor. They swaddle sausage and beef with pasta to make their signature cannelloni, and coat eggplant slices with breadcrumbs and mozzarella for eggplant parmesan. The restaurant stations its guests in a spacious, dimly lit dining room or outside next to a fountain that speaks nothing but gibberish. Live entertainers amuse crowds every Friday and Saturday, and trivia hosts query patrons on Thursday nights.
The straws are wide by design at Bubble Tea Cafe, where the staff cooks chewy balls of tapioca daily to plunk into their customers' cups. These "bobas" add an interactive element to the Taiwanese beverages. Available in more than 40 flavors, including blueberry, avocado, spiced chai, and peanut butter, the frosty drinks comprise the bulk of the cafe's menu, but share space with hot and iced tea variants such as mojito mint-lime. Guests can even mix their bubble tea types to create creamy combinations—the Bananas Foster mixes banana and caramel, whereas the Boba Loca blends honeydew and almond—and pair their personalized sips with one of many rotating desserts.
Chefs at Delhi Palace craft each piece of clay-oven-baked bread from scratch, evincing an attention to detail that helped earn them the title of Best Indian Restaurant 2010 from readers of the Free Times. Plain, topped with garlic, or stuffed with peppers or potatoes, this bread soaks up sauces from goat, lamb, and seafood dishes on the à la carte menu, and also pairs with vegetarian dishes formed from housemade cheese or roasted eggplants. In addition, lunch and dinner buffets lay out traditional dishes under the dark wood arches, ivory-painted columns, and Indian-style murals of the dining room.