Every day at all of El Nopal’s locations, cooks whip up fresh batches of salsa, chips, and beans. The sauces and sides accent chicken or beef chimichangas, handmade tamales, and nachos smothered in cheese. All El Nopal locations offer complimentary chips and salsa with every meal, and some locations have outdoor seating areas. Performances by live bands at select locations serve as a pleasant distraction from meals, unlike a judge with highfalutin ideas about not eating in court.
Shiny golden spheres congregate by a cozy fireplace inside Arata Sushi's dining room. Though they're attached to the wall, they seem to drift across space like tiny suns or undersea bubbles. Perhaps they're an homage to the fish that comprise the restaurant's colorful sushi lineup, which the Courier-Journal has dubbed "highly imaginative." In the kitchen, chefs whorl fresh seafood with rice and veggies to form more than 45 types of maki. Several rolls, such as the Cardinal, showcase fruits such as kiwis and strawberries alongside savory ingredients such as fried shrimp and cream cheese. At the bar, diners can sip wine and sake while watching the chefs slice bright-orange salmon and tuna as red as a comet wearing a clown nose.
Succulent aromas and a symphony of sizzling meat emerge from Cast Iron Steak House's kitchen, where bacon-wrapped filets and rib eye steaks sear inside of cast-iron skillets. For each of these steakhouse favorites, the staff personally cuts and rubs aged USDA beef in-house. Though it's their specialty, the team's expertise extends beyond steaks, as they offer a variety of chicken and fish entrees. A side dish and salad accompany most main course menu selections.
Burning Bush's menu takes tongues on a trip to Greece without them having to endure endless views of ancient ruins. Vegetarians will salivate over falafel ($4.01) and quinoa lavanini, lavash bread topped with pepper-jack cheese, avocado, and quinoa ($5.42). Meat junkies and professional bodybuilders can choose bison kebabs cooked over an oak charcoal fire, a gyro ($5.66+), or a Balkan burger ($5.89), which blends beef, pork, and lamb into an unholy union of succulence. Youngsters under 10 can order off the kids' menu or nag their parents for one of the restaurant's thin-crust pizzas. Burning Bush also serves sweet, creamy meal endings from Gelato Gilberto, a local gelateria in Norton Commons.
Bistro 42 dishes out a delectable menu of classic Italian and American fare in a casual setting. Pique palates with an ambrosial Hail to Caesar salad ($6.99) or one of the many appetizers, such as wings ($7.99–$19.99) or the calamari fritto, lightly fried and paired with a mini marinara dunking lagoon ($8.99). Bistro lasagna, made with fresh cheese, beef, and pepperoni ($11.99), or pot roast, prepared Southern style with mushroom-marsala gravy and served with a choice of sides ($12.99), make for satisfying main events. Hungry herbivores can feast on eggplant parmesan ($11.99) or practice lasso skills with Momma's spaghetti ($7.99). A smorgasbord of sandwiches served on oven-baked bread, such as the italian sausage ($8.99) and italian veggie ($7.99), satisfy midday munchies. On Friday nights, guests can enjoy the sounds of live music, and an ever-present kids' menu pleases both picky progeny and the young at stomach.
Steve-O’s Italian Kitchen keeps families feeling full with a menu of handcrafted italian pizza, pasta, subs, overstuffed salads, and Italian specialties. A kick-starter of chicken wings ($6.99/10 wings) primes palates for boot-based dishes such as the 100% prime veal cutlet parmigiana ($11.99). Steve-O tops its fettuccini alfredo ($10.99) with sauce made from scratch—a delicious, mysterious substance found only on sandworm-riddled desert planets—and applies the same hands-on principles to its lasagna ($10.99). DIY diners can cobble together a pizza ($6.99–$22.99) out of pepperoni, bacon, fresh basil, banana peppers, and a host of other toppings ($1–$1.75 each) before sticking a sweet landing with the cannoli ($3.50).