Bartenders mix more than 30 specialty martinis at Lounge 33, a riverside bar that owes its sophistication to owners Angela and George Tavaglione. The owners’ extensive menu of mixed drinks includes nods to highbrow entertainment, including The Godfather, a drink that fuses Johnnie Walker Green Label and Disaronno amaretto, or the Dirt and Spice martini, an avant-garde combination of Absolut Peppar and olive juice, Tapatio hot sauce, and lemon. Though the focus is on mixed drinks, the Tavagliones also stock wine and beer, while their skilled cooks prepare flatbread pizzas and italian meatball sandwiches guaranteed not to pop a meatball out and send it rolling to the top of Mount Smokey.
A family Mexican restaurant by day, Tequila Bar & Grill transforms into a nightclub at night, at which point couples groove to salsa tunes played by live bands and Djs or sing Spanish and English karaoke. Patrons dine on authentic cuisine, such as tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas amid exposed brick walls and south of the border-inspired tiling.
Toro Sushi Bar invites you to join the bite-sized culinary festivities in a chic modern setting. Its menu features a wide variety of hand-made flavorful treats, from sushi to sashimi to full entrees to tapas. Enjoy the geometric perfection of a Creole Roll with crab, veggies, and seared Cajun tuna ($15) or the insistent adoration of the Loveulongtime Roll, which unites shrimp tempura, crab, avocado, masago and tobiko with a duo of eel and dynamite sauces ($15). If you've chosen to don your "Me and My Sushi and Sashimi – No Two Ways About It" custom tee-shirt, head straight into a carefully orchestrated array of blue fin tuna Maguro, octopus Tako, Hawaiian white tuna Ono, Japanese Red Snapper Carpaccio ($15), and the Kobe Beef Tataki with green onions, garlic chips and crispy red onions ($25). For even smaller eats, peruse the tapas menu for calamari, monkey balls (tempura style mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese, spicy tuna, and avocado), and edamame. You can complement your meal with specialty drinks, sake, wine, and beer.
Voted best French restaurant by IE Weekly, Christophe's serves up a variety of Francophone fixin's, eponymously prepared by Chef Christophe Jardillier, who honed his culinary chops on cutting boards throughout France. The sleek dining room, dominated by leather and mahogany hues, creates a swank backdrop for house specialties such as the beef bourguignon, a hearty dish composed of beef, mushrooms, and vegetables in a rich red-wine sauce ($21.95). After dinner, sashay toward the lounge for cocktails and live music on Wednesdays through Saturdays, courtesy of jazz musicians, enthusiastic karaokists, and sassy rapping grandmas.
Ra Pour's executive chef, Greg Stillman, draws upon culinary wisdom culled from stints at famed restaurant The French Laundry to curate upscale renditions of comfort fare, nabbing buzz from Taste Terminal and a dozen other media outlets. An open kitchen affords prime views of chefs as they garnish pizzas with handmade mozzarella and truffle oil before tossing them into a wood-fired oven. Succulent meats from local farms boast exotic flourishes such as North African–style harissa, Buddha’s hand marmalade, and a single unicorn tear. Live beats flow from a raised DJ platform toward the bar, where mixologists fashion original cocktails against a backdrop of dramatic green and purple lighting.
Aqua Restaurant & Lounge, located within Holiday Inn Irvine Spectrum, serves up classic American cuisine as well as gourmet specialties. In the morning, breakfast platters and cups of RainForest Alliance coffee give diners enough energy to race a taxi on foot on the way to work. Later on, chefs prepare heirloom salads and signature dishes such as the Philly West, a gourmet riff on the philly cheesesteak that pairs shaved filet mignon with housemade Jack Daniels au jus and melted provolone. A full bar, 50-inch plasma TV, and sleek decor round out the hotel-lounge experience.