Surfboards hang from the ceiling alongside hammock-like netting to create a beachy atmosphere inside the landlocked Shark Bar. Patrons cluster around colorful bench-style seats or high-top tables to sip refreshing island drinks, such as rumrunners and the signature Beach Pail punch. Wait staff dressed as lifeguards mix drinks behind a wood-slatted bar adorned with a giant flip-flop left behind after Paul Bunyan's 21st birthday party. At night, disco balls illuminate and black lights transform the bar into a neon dance floor with a soundtrack set by in-house DJs.
Howl at the Moon’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of nightly celebrations, as patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Sam Adams and Harpoon IPA.
Nestled in the Crossroads Arts District, Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen sates sophisticated palates with seasonal, contemporary-American cuisine and an eclectic selection of voluptuous vinos from around the world. Midday grape guzzlers can indulge taste buds with a lunch menu boasting a savory selection of gourmet portobello, pork, and strip-steak sandwiches ($8–$11). For dinner, indulge in a selection of pre-meal cheeses that include drunken goat, port-salut, and jokes told by the waiter's uncle on Christmas ($6/individual, $15/choice of three). Diners can savor the aromatics rising from a piping plate of seared ahi tuna served with wasabi mashed potatoes and tempura asparagus ($26), or sink knives into a grilled pork chop served with a three-veggie succotash and golden-potato hash ($23). A stalwart array of cutlery helps guests plot the epic four-course tasting menu that can be paired with a selection of wines or a tiny pair of wind-up chattering teeth ($38/person).
Each of the wines on the shelf in Cellar Rat has been vetted by the staff—nothing is sold to the public unless the staff would drink it or use it as a substitute for milk in cereal. The resulting more than 800 wines, 70% of which are less than $20, make for tasty everyday and special-occasion beverages, as do the number of premium spirits and handcrafted brews stocked alongside the wine.
Cellar Rat’s vino experts do more than just discern the difference between good and bad wine; they also teach others how to do so during wine classes that delve into the intricacies of tasting. They even make pairing suggestions for the artisan cheeses, gourmet cured meats, and pate also sold in the boutique shop.
The Westside Local Restaurant & Beer Garden satiates ravenous diners by utilizing an extensive selection of beer and a dinner menu that suggests drinks to complement each entree. Barons of the brewski can start by guzzling down a European beer, with intercontinental selections including Belgium's Hoegaarden ($6), Germany's Henniger Premium ($4), and Canada's Unibroue Ephermere Apple ($6). Domestic craft brews such as Kansas City's Boulevard Dry Stout ($6) and Bell's Two Hearted Ale ($5) from Michigan are also available for patriotic palates, as is a wide array of wines. Pair your barley pop with one of Westside Local's large entrees—the grilled chicken breast unites its poultry with a jalapeño-infused sweet potato hash ($19), and the grilled cheese sandwich, a melty amalgamation of brie, emmentaler, and white cheddar, leads gourmands on a gondola ride through cheesy canals ($9).