A thatched roof hangs over the namesake bar at Tiki Island Bar & Grill. In addition to sheltering bartenders from the sweltering indoor sun, this tropical decoration pays tribute to the Hawaiian-style dishes that emerge from the kitchen. These include grilled shrimp quesadillas with mango salsa, mahi mahi, and tacos brimming with slow-roasted Kahlua pork. Island ingredients also sneak onto salads in the form of shredded carrots, diced tomatoes, barbecue ranch dressing, and Katsu chicken—a type of deep-fried, panko-crusted tender.
Beyond the tiki bar, more than 30 flat-screen televisions surround a spacious main room replete with four billiards tables.
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.
At Ontario Improv, comics lure laughs from bellies in the hopes of following in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have graced the Improv’s stages. The club's calendar schedules comedians as often as six nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-coming performers. As they take in shows, audience members can munch on savory appetizers such as spinach-and-artichoke dip or fried calamari, and sip cocktails to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.