In 1984, Greg and Rose Tcholakian decided that, in order to truly share their traditional Middle Eastern eats with the world, a bigger kitchen was in order. That led them to open Carousel Restaurant in an intimate storefront. In 1998, they passed the business to their son, Mike, who expanded upon his parents' growing legacy by moving to a larger location, where he could incorporate more of his family’s culture into every detail. He enhanced the eatery's decor with traditional artwork and decorative scimitars, and put together a live band to back up a large belly-dancing troupe on Fridays and Saturdays. Over the years, Mike has also added to the menu, which now includes more than 50 appetizers in addition to his parents' signature kebabs and pilafs. Today he still helms the business, steering it toward its 30th anniversary and millionth belly shaken as his guests continue to come nightly for a taste of his family’s food and culture.
Executive chef Kareem Shaw is no stranger to creating memorable fine-dining experiences. He's cooked for governors, senators, congressmen, and even President Barak Obama. At Frame 128 Restaurant, he lends his expertise to menu of fine American fusion food. Here, Shaw crafts a variety of dishes with influences from all over the globe, including appetizers of escargot and oysters, wild boar and kobe beef burgers, and ahi tuna. The menu even includes a selection of flatbread pizzas. To complement bites of filet mignon and wild New Zealand king salmon, the bartenders muddle and swirl a selection of signature cocktails.
The menu's bold flavors and detail-oriented craftsmanship call for an equally swanky environment. To that end, the restaurant's dining rooms and lounges, which are spread over two stories, are characterized by sleek, modern decor. The downstairs Blue Lounge offers clusters of plush couches and round low tables for intimate exchanges, while the upstairs Red Lounge facilitates views of the courtyard, accented by neon-lit surroundings.
The chefs at Sapporo Ramen & Shabu Shabu wouldn't dream of using an instant soup base for their ramen or shabu-shabu broth. Instead, they spend hours simmering high-quality stock, deepening the flavors of ingredients such as hearty pork or spicy kimchi. Diners can slurp the sumptuous results in ramen bowls loaded with noodles, veggies, and roasted meats, or opt for simmering shabu-shabu in which to dunk choice ingredients such as enoki mushrooms or sliced-to-order kobe beef.
Like its grownup sister location—Polentoni—Piccolo Polentoni offers refined versions of Old World Italian cuisine. The chefs keep the flavors familiar by importing prosciutto from Italy, hand-rolling meatballs, and making every strand of fettuccine in-house. Likewise, pizzas feature classic toppings such as basil, grilled vegetables, and pepperoni tinged with red chili pepper. Some dishes, such as polenta in meaty bolognese sauce, are a tad more complex, combining northern and southern Italian influences onto one plate. The wine list shows a similar appreciation for Italy's culinary imports and features bottles from Piemonte and Puglia.
An ascending ribbon of exposed brickwork runs along one dining room wall to the next, providing a rustic touch in the softly lit space. Metallic sconces adorn the walls beside each booth, which surround tables lit by flickering candles.
You could argue that every meal at Gaucho's Village includes live entertainment—servers are constantly visiting tables with humongous skewers of meat and slicing off choice pieces with a sword-like knife. To summon such a show to your table, all you need to do is turn a small marker over to display its green side, or turn your "Bring on the Meat" t-shirt right-side out. Then, you select from an array of flame-roasted cuts, ranging from the traditional picanha, or sirloin cap, to tri-tip and filet mignon wrapped in bacon. The blazing churrasco fires backstage also cook lamb, pork, and sausage, and the menu suggests a proper wine pairing for each cut.
Though these meats have been featured on the Travel Channel's Tastiest Places to Chow Down, they aren't the only impressive spectacle at the restaurant. The real show occurs on weekends, when samba dancers and DJs rev up the always-festive atmosphere. Guests who would rather kick back than shimmy along can visit the attached lounge. There, a separate lounge menu boasts empanadas and coxinha—fried balls of chicken and cheese—as well as flavored hookah on a back patio fenced with live bamboo.
There's something for all tastes at Eat Well, from Baja fish tacos to country-fried chicken. The cozy diner serves homestyle breakfast until 3 p.m. daily, including such day-starting entrees as a hickory-smoked ham and eggs, and a vegetarian Buddha bowl made with tofu, broccoli, zucchini, and enlightenment. Later in the day, guests enjoy a high pile of ham, salami, swiss cheese, and Italian dressing in the Hobi Sandwich, and the herbivore-friendly Garden Melt with a meatless patty, grilled red onions, and soy cheese on a marble rye.