Local blues musicians and other artists generate a suitably warming and varied aural backdrop on which executive chef Patrick Pierre-Jerome swirls together flavors from New Orleans, Europe, and further afield. Hat City Kitchen's menu fills plates with inventive takes on comfort food such as shrimp and grits, jambalaya, bread pudding, and baby back ribs. The ribs don a combination of plum sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, and cocoa, which the New York Times says "sounds like a mouthful and, happily, is."
In front of a blocky quilted curtain, a rotating roster of live performers strums guitars and charms snakes back into drum kits beneath the exposed ductwork that runs above the cabaret-style seating. Hands Inc., a local nonprofit, presides over the eatery and works with a variety of artists to raise funds for projects designed to improve the Valley area.
This festive lounge and restaurant serves up contemporary renditions of classic Peruvian dishes. Hearty entrees come packed with spiced meat and fried seafood, while three different ceviches offer lighter, citrus-splashed doses of fresh fish. The drink menu features tropical cocktails, such as pisco sours and frozen margaritas, as well as more decadent concoctions, including a strawberry pineapple daiquiri topped with an upside down corona bottle and a pillbox hat. On the weekends, guests can sip on different variations until 2:30 a.m. The restaurant’s traditional brick facade belies a modern interior furnished with neon red walls and modern bucket seats.
At Slate Restaurant, a bar the size of stretch limo radiates red light and glass facets hang like icicles from a glowing blue chandelier. This delicate balance between hot and cool is central not only to the atmosphere, but also to the cuisine—in the kitchen, chefs enhance herb-crusted fish and roasted meats with sweet-and-spicy flourishes including slices of roasted pineapple and splashes of spicy chili sauce.
After 10 p.m. on the weekends, however, attention shifts away from the delicate balance to focus on live DJs spinning pulsating dance beats, a panel of flickering flat-screen TVs, and strobe lights streaking across the dance floor. Bartenders mix inventive drinks such as sake bombs and green tea martinis until 2 a.m. on weekends.
Planet Wings was born in 1994, when Franco and Paula Fidanza, unsatisfied with the current state of fast food delivery, decided to up the ante by combining quick, accessible cuisine and the rising popularity of fried chicken wings. Now, the duo's signature wings and hearty dishes are available at locations spanning five states. Diners can savor 24 wing sauces such as hot, medium, Cajun, butter garlic, and bourbon barbecue, or opt for non-wing options such as burgers, salads, or sandwiches.
For Sam Mickail, food is autobiographical. Born in Cairo, the first spices he smelled were hearty Mediterranean blends. He then spent most of his childhood in France surrounded by the cooking of world-class chefs, eventually leaving for Switzerland to turn his love of food into a bona fide culinary craft. Now, in America, he channels all of these influences and global experiences into cooking, lending his talents to numerous restaurants and further exploring all the cooking styles that inspired him throughout his life. This surfaces most clearly in Sam Mickail’s CUT Steak House, where he’s free to put international twists on the time-honored tradition of cooking delicious steaks.
Sam coats his filet mignons and porterhouses in delicious béarnaise, au poivre, or perigourdine sauces, according to his customers’ wishes. He also serves fresh oysters at his raw bar, slathers lobster tails in butter, and batters escargot with a champagne crust, a creation he calls drunken snails for their complete inability to slither in a straight line.
Though The Deli Guy's signature sandwich is, perhaps surprisingly, a sloppy joe, the dish still bears strong deli influences. The sandwich is like a cross between a club and a reuben, a triple-decker behemoth layered with rye bread, russian dressing, and coleslaw. Of course, traditional clubs are served as well, including one with turkey, roast beef, and bacon. There are plenty of hot sandwiches to balance all the cold cuts, such as grilled cheese and an Italian-style hot dog that drives to tables on a tiny Vespa.
To promote a family, community atmosphere, The Deli Guy hosts an open-mic night the last Wednesday of each month. Here, amateur musicians perform as patrons order from a special menu with dinner-style entrees.