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.
The restaurant's chef and owner, John Randall, employs more than 30 years of experience to grill up a wide variety of fresh seafood, certified Angus steak, and hearty sandwiches. Rev up digestion engines with one of John's starters, which include such Neptunian delights as fried calamari and smoked salmon pizza ($3.50–$9.50). Hearty entrees, such as prime rib, a swordfish sandwich, and scallop scampi, muscle out hunger ($9.95–$18.95), while a bevy of soups and salads stand on the sidelines, waiting to be tagged in if the bacon cheeseburger sprains its condiments ($4.50–$10.50). At the full bar, 15 different beers and more than 20 wines, several from California, supplement rising salivary floodwaters.
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.
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.
Boasting Michelin stars and three decades of culinary experience, executive chef Patrick Ponsaty pilots a team that creates upscale seafood and contemporary gourmet fare. Ponsaty?s colleagues include young chefs Gianina Dicicco and Mike Reidy, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and the New England Culinary Institute. Dishes with modern, imaginative flavors include squid-ink risotto, veal cheeks with orange-blossom mousse, and hibiscus-pomegranate consomm?. Each creation is a work of visual art, too, with colorful spices, marbleized sauces, and carefully stacked ingredients arranged to resemble Rodin?s The Thinker.
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.