At first, Tin Drum Asia Café's rapid service and bright decor evoke the aromatic street stands of Hong Kong, where founder Steven Chan ate throughout his childhood. The traditional ambiance is no accident—the franchise's name also harks back to a bygone era, when a tin drummer would awaken citizens and regale them with current events as they ate the day’s first meal. The electronic kiosks dotting the café, however, plunk this traditional scene in the middle of a cyberpunk setting. They allow patrons to customize their orders based on taste preferences and nutritional content, accommodating dietary endeavors such as vegetarianism and weight-loss goals.
This merger of technology and urban convention reflects a penchant for edgy ideas that also affects the menu. Items inspired by the culinary techniques of Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand share space in the savory catalog, taking the form of street tacos, soups, and mango chicken, a take on the general tso's staple that's sweeter than a syrup-soaked army helmet. Music is the final ingredient that charges the atmosphere. Nation's Restaurant News reports that it typically plays at an energizing 120 beats per minute and was a factor in attracting the café's initial college crowds.
Casa Mia serves up a dinner menu that features 15 tapas options as well as other Latin specialties. Share small plates, such as Colombian chorizo sausage served with a diving pool of creamy salsa rosada ($6). Sauteed mushrooms and onions sneak into melted monterey-jack cheese in Casa Mia's mushroom cheese dip, waiting anxiously for slices of dunking bread to find them ($5). Less traditional options include the Latin sushi roll, which stuffs chicken ($7) or fish ($8) inside sweet plantains covered in avocado sauce. Those opposed to culinary communes can sample a Latin-inspired entree of their very own, such as the hot-pressed Cuban sandwich stacked with ham, swiss cheese, avocado, sauces, and your choice of veggies ($7), chicken ($8), pork ($9), or steak ($10). A selection of sharable desserts offers sweet-seeking tongues a dynamic finale, including churros in a chocolate dipping sauce ($5) and spanish flan glazed with caramel ($5). Check out Casa Mia’s brunch and lunch menus for earlier dining options.
Flanked by rustic stone columns and carved lions, 5 Seasons Brewing's entrance looks like the secluded front to a Napa Valley villa, belying its cozy atmosphere and community-focused mission to provide tasty, affordable food and drink. Founded by chef David Larkworthy—son of a pioneering advocate of using organic food in restaurants—Five Seasons Brewing carries its commitment to community to its ingredients, cooking with a cornucopia of regularly shifting local produce from a gaggle of affiliated farms. The menu features such fusion dishes as crispy alligator served with a blackened chili glaze and Remoulade. At tables, guests dig in to home-baked bread, whose warm crust exudes tangy scents from the brewery's spent beer grain.
In the towering tanks that skirt the pub, brewmaster Kevin McNerney creates a kaleidoscopic selection of unique small-batch beers. The cofounder of flagship Georgia brewer SweetWater, McNerney brings two decades of experience to his craft, making refreshing brews such as the Chug Monkey and turning to ancient Belgian traditions to make his crisp, orange-infused witbier.
Every pizza at zpizza is freshly prepared, hand thrown, gently coaxed into the oven using soft birdcalls and pheromone trails, and fire-baked to crispy perfection. The dough is prepared fresh daily from 100% certified-organic wheat, and z is also happy to offer certified organic and gluten-free crusts, sating the pizza desire of the allergic, dieters, and wheat sympathizers. Toppings include award-winning Wisconsin skim mozzarella, MSG-free pepperoni, certified-organic tomato sauce, additive-free sausage, and fresh produce. Try a large ZBQ pizza (with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, barbecue chicken, roasted pepper, red onion, tomato, cilantro, and sweet corn, $20.95) or a chicken curry and yam rustica (with mozzarella, curry chicken, yam, mango chutney, raisin, and cilantro, $8.95). Vegans can delight in a small Berkeley, a soy-cheese veggie pizza (with pesto, soy cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomato, mushroom, red onion, and bell pepper, $9.95), while traveling tongues can sate their wanderlust with a mouthwatering Moroccan rustica (with pesto, mozzarella, roasted eggplant, feta cheese, caramelized onion, and pine nut, $8.95). Zpizza lets you wash it all down with a variety of organic wine and beer.