At El Rincon Tropical, the sweet aroma of simmering plantains drifts through a lively dining room. Back in the kitchen, chefs marinate meats and seafood in garlic butter and nestle them beside mofongo balls—mashed and fried mounds of plantains or cassava. The restaurant's lauded Cuban sandwich earned it a mention in The Virginian-Pilot's Best of the Best 2012 as one of the best Cubano sandwiches in Hampton Roads. In addition to the cuisine, El Rincon Tropical pays homage to Puerto Rico with a colorful wall mural of Fort "El Morro" and tropical plants. Like the weather forecasts conch shells whisper in islanders’ ears, the eatery’s Latin music recalls tropical locales, and on Friday and Saturday evenings, the dining room transforms into a dance hall.
Havana Nights Dining and Jazz's moody allure earned the restaurant the title of "Best Restaurant Reviewed in 2012" by The Virginian-Pilot. With its trio of unique venues, the restaurant invites guests to three very different experiences under the same roof. The Caribbean Room features Caribbean-American fusion dishes from Chef Kent Johnson's kitchen amid a "beautifully moody and dark dining space," as described by HamptonRoads.com. Surrounded by murals of palm trees, diners browse wine and spirits menus on iPads and dig into interpretations of arroz con pollo and gulf bouillabaisse.
In an adjoining space, the Bang and Olufsen Jazz Club vibrates with improvised scales during live performances every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening. Upstairs, in a private lounge, cigar enthusiasts can kick back in large leather chairs while enjoying stogies and writing secret messages to each other in the clouds of aromatic smoke.
In downtown Norfolk, on a bustling part of Granby Street just steps from the Norfolk Scope Arena, Granby Theatre, and Flatiron Park, you'll find Scotty Quixx Lounge & Bistro, a one-stop entertainment destination that serves up world fusion food alongside a schedule of live music and DJs. The hot spot also keeps things classy, welcoming guests decked out in accordance with a “smart casual” dress code with cocktails crafted from top-shelf spirits. On the food side, an eclectic menu includes fish tacos, burritos, and quesadillas as well as rib eye steaks, chicken alfredo, and fish and chips.
The flavors of three tropical nations meet in the kitchen of Lola's Caribbean Restaurant, where Chef Roberto Sierra prepares Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican classics. He marinates fresh seafood for his ceviche, mashes plantains to serve with shrimp, and flavors steaks with house-made chimichurri sauce. Land and sea come together in dishes such as the Zancocho, a medley of tender oxtail, flank steak, chicken, Dominican sausage, and shrimp that a Daily Press writer described as "a rich, flavorful stew." Though the menu brims with meaty dishes, Chef Sierra prepares vegetarian entrees by request. White tablecloths and a glowing chandelier create an ambience that feels relaxed, yet elegant—much like wearing a larger person's tuxedo.
Venue 112 Rock N Sports Lounge's black-leather and brushed-metal sports lounge lives a double life as a high-energy dance club as chefs unceasingly sling a menu of contemporary American bar fare. To begin savory excursions, the spice of buffalo shrimp crosses palate wires by mingling with vodka-lime cocktail sauce, while towering plates of barbecue-chicken nachos smolder beneath chipotle salsa. Half-pound patties of sizzling beef forge hearty bases for 10 creative burgers, including the spicy pineapple-salsa burger and the Chesapeake burger, which drapes its patty in succulent bluefin crabmeat, sizzling bacon, and horseradish mayo. Meanwhile, full entrees of blackened ahi tuna and blue-cheese-slathered new york strip steaks fuel bodies for the impending celebration better than a diet composed entirely of birthday cakes.
The rollicking sounds of blues artists headlining the two stages of the restaurant’s performance venue filter through this barbecue hot spot. It features spice-rubbed meats served up with a selection of homestyle sides. The menu centers on hickory-smoked beef, seasoned and smoked pork, and rubbed and grilled chicken and ribs that are steeped in spices, like Marco Polo’s scrapbook. The restaurant outfits tables with a selection of spicy, savory, and slightly sweet sauces, allowing patrons to customize heat levels on entrees or provide a flavorful accompaniment to fried pickles, baskets of corn bread, or Mojo pit beans.