The saloons of yesteryear didn't usually stretch across12,000 square feet. But at Cowboys Saloon, a modern take on the watering holes of the Old West, visitors have plenty of space to dig into a hearty meal, grab drinks from one of three full liquor bars, or kick up their spurred heels on the 2,000-square-foot dance floor. Live concerts, weekly events, three pool tables, and a mechanical bull help the saloon attract passersby and extroverted tumbleweeds to its tables.
Recently opened Poolhouse Grill regales guests with juicy burgers and ocean-fresh seafood amid an upbeat club-inspired atmosphere. Framed by multicolored beams of light and waving palms, the restaurant's façade draws visitors in to celebrate DJ-fueled dancefests on weekends, or rock 'n' roll–powered discussions about Robert M. Pirsig with bikers on Wednesdays. Sports fans belly up to the bar to watch their favorite sports legends on the arsenal of flat-screen TVs, and occasional beer-pong tournaments prepare amateurs for the rigors of professional ping-pong chucking.
A sprinkling of mediterranean spices makes its way into many of the dishes at Venicia Cafe & Grill. Chefs toss flavorful handfuls atop filets mignons, hide them inside falafel patties, and allow them to seep inside salmon with a wine-and-lemon marinade. Other staple Mediterranean dishes that leave the kitchen include creamy hummus with gyro, stuffed grape leaves, and spinach pie. After meals, puffs of scented smoke float around hookahs and a disco ball lights up the dance floor as patrons sway their hips, stomp their feet, and toss one another in the air.
In a dining room decorated with Egyptian-inspired artwork, visitors to Exotic Bites enjoy a tableau of Mediterranean dishes that range from tender gyros to rich and creamy hummus. Warm pita wraps around sizzling shawarma, lamb kebabs, or kebah, a combination of minced beef, pine nuts, and ground lamb, and stuffed falafels are comprised of a crunchy chickpea patty filled with minced beef, chicken, or sautéed vegetables. The occasional tendrils of hookah smoke spiral into the air, spun from the lips of friends chatting at a table or reclining in a cushioned corner decorated with a vivid wall hanging. More hookah pipes line up against a wall shelf, spaced between the chalkboard menu of daily specials and framed pictures.
Pool sharks and bar flies can play out their own personal film noir against the slinky backdrop of Lucky Pocket Billiards. Figures around Russian-imported pool tables chalk their cues while their companions send colorful balls whizzing across the felt to clack into pockets. Against the other wall, the sound of bubbly chatter rises up from groups seated on black-leather couches. Over the bar, Christmas lights twinkle, sending kaleidoscopic colors glinting off pints of Samuel Adams, Budweiser, and AmberBock. A television mounted on the wall broadcasts sporting events or the latest report on the theft of a famous ornithological statue.
Eggs, ham, and bacon not only make a great start to the day, but also a fine end to it when they top Alley Cat Bar and Grill’s breakfast burger. It’s one of the bar’s many evening edibles, which range from local Gulf Coast oysters to Angus steaks or grilled chicken paired with housemade chimichurri sauce. The bar's cooks showcase their versatility, too, by preparing vegetarian-friendly main dishes such as pizzas crowned with spinach and Alfredo sauce.
These feasts unfold amid nightly entertainment, from 8-balls sinking into pool table pockets to big-screen TVs showing much-touted games. Throughout the week, guests can also croon karaoke, rock out to live bands, and groove to tunes spun by live DJs, rather than iPods wearing hoodies.