Make lunch or dinner into a fun foodmersible with submarine-shaped appetizer rolls such as the seared ahi tuna variation with mango, mint, avocado, and wasabi-ginger soy sauce ($7), or yam-tempura-coated fish sticks ($7). Meat goes best with meat, which explains why bold dishes like the rau ram salad with chicken, cabbage, green mango, and apple ($11) and the braised anise shortrib ($22) stand out so well. Quietly confident plates such as the tofu with eggplant, mushrooms, and Thai basil ($12) or the lemongrass jalapeno wok (tofu, $13) are equally delicious, but are more susceptible to noogies.
Though each Auld Dubliner storefront is lettered in the same size-300 Irish Gaelvetica font, it must also meet the stringent level of pub authenticity required by co-owner and Gaelic strongdrinker David Copley. A native of Limerick, Ireland, Copley might share a dirty poem if you ask nicely, but he's more likely to tell you that every part of his pub's polished wood and brass décor was designed and crafted in Ireland and transported piece-by-piece to its new American home. The Auld Dubliner's oaken ornamentation of barrels, bar counters, hefty wood tables, faux-oil lamps, and Guinness posters galore makes it easy to tuck right into a menu of toothsome Erin edibles such as shepherd's pie with ground beef and lamb, baked with mashed potatoes ($12.95), or the for-more-than-St.-Patty's-Day corned beef and cabbage ($12.95). Other fare that comes with a shamrock stamp of approval includes the traditional boxty (a potato pancake) stuffed with delights including Irish bacon and melted cheddar ($13.95) or Atlantic salmon with shallots and tarragon ($13.95). Slightly haute-seared classics strut their stuff as well, including Angus-beef pub burgers ($9.50), a seared tuna salad with Asian coleslaw ($12.95), and the mega-vegetarian ploughman's sandwich with grilled eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and pretty much everything else that grows from the ground on ciabatta with horseradish mayo ($8.95). For a finish as sweet as a "yes" from Molly Bloom, the Irish-whiskey crème brûlée adds a twist to a traditional dessert by turning it into crème brûlée.
The epicurean engineers at Durty Nelly's rouse weary palates with dishes from an extensive menu of Irish classics and frothy brews. Cheer on quarreling sausages in the bangers and mash plate ($10.95), or embrace the corned beef and cabbage dish ($12.95), which is more tender and juicy than a hug from the Kool-Aid Man. The fish 'n' chips platter beer-batters Icelandic cod filets and serves them with a heap of fries and coleslaw ($12.95), and 25 handhelds such as the corned beef sandwich ($7.75+) and the avocado, bacon, and cheese burger ($8.95) compete for attention with 10 draught beers under the luminous glow of big-game beaming flat-screen TVs. To complement each bite, Durty Nelly's provides a slew of weekly entertainment and invites bar farers to sip on discounted brews during happy hours Monday–Thursday.
Housed within a bright, renovated historic warehouse, Tia Juana's Long Bar & Grill serves authentic Mexican cuisine and features live music and dancing each night. The menu channels classic Tex-Mex comfort cooking with homemade savories such as Baja nachos stacked with spicy meats and cheeses ($11.95), and the guacamole estilo Mexico spiced with serrano peppers and red onion, textured with cotija cheese, and splashed with fresh lime juice ($8.95). Take in entrees such as the camarones al mojo de ajo, in which sauteed jumbo shrimp croon over a backing band of rhythmic rice, harmonizing black beans, and an eccentric guacamole saxophonist ($18.95). The unique Cabo roll lights fires inside a tortilla wrapping with grilled chicken or carne asada, avocado, pico de gallo, and cheese ($12.95).
To Master Chef Massimo Navarretta—who grew up farming and wine-making in Campania, Italy—it makes little sense to separate wine from food. At his eatery Onotria, which received Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence in 2011 and 2012, he groups dishes on the menu by wine pairing, rather than by main ingredient or ability to be balanced on the tip of a tiny dessert spoon. Seafood-based plates, such as prosciutto-wrapped tiger shrimp or poached octopus with artichokes, complement a glass of dry, sparkling white wine. Lightly breaded pork medallions accompany a light, dry red, while hearty lamb chops or filet go with a bolder varietal such as zinfandel or merlot. These dishes can serve as tasting plates for groups, entrees for individuals, or finger food for visiting giants.
To create the seasonal menu, the kitchen uses hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, as well as organic and biodynamic ingredients. Meals are served under a high-peaked ceiling with wooden rafters, in a dining room with exposed-brick columns and mottled walls that echo the look of an old-country trattoria.