When you set foot inside Original Roadhouse Grill, you may hear a crunch. Look down, and you’ll see hundreds of peanut shells scattered across the floor— remnants of the complimentary peanuts served by the bucketful. Country music and classic rock plays from an old-fashioned jukebox as servers perform lively line dances amidst walls of colorful knickknacks and neon signs. The atmosphere is equally as energetic in the kitchen, where open-air mesquite-wood grills roar with flames that sizzle hand-cut USDA Washington State steaks, juicy bison burgers, and thick slabs of ribs. To craft their renowned Texas egg rolls, the creative cooks fry up plump wonton shells stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeños. Servers bear the heavy platters into the dining room, along with cups of regional beers and mason jars of Wild West–inspired cocktails—such as a Luckenbach lemonade and a Bootlegger iced tea. The restaurant staff encourages guests to dress casually, welcoming worn blue jeans, comfortable T-shirts, and loose-fitting wedding gowns.
The cuisine crafters at O'Neill's Bar & Grill offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus of delectable eats in a warm stone-and-wood dining hall. Sink into a chair near a flat-screen HD television to pair eye feasts with hunger quieter such as the 14-ounce, maple-cured pork chop ($23). Outdoor eaters can warm appetites on the sun-splashed patio providing picturesque golf-course vistas, and saturate parched taste buds with flavor floods from the succulent New Zealand king salmon ($24). Those looking to diversify states of consumable matter can sip a selection from the 2010 Wine Spectator award of excellence-winning vino list, which offer more efficient and delicious palate-enrobers than tiny purple pullovers. Although O'Neill's Bar & Grill hosts special events, this Groupon is only valid on their everyday menus.
Gol Brazilian Restaurant's cooks prepare top sirloin, bacon-wrapped pork, chicken hearts, and other meats in the traditional gaucho style—by skewering them onto metal rods and slow-roasting them over charcoal. Besides the succulent churrasco selections, a buffet of fresh, flavorful salads and hot dishes such as spaghetti carbonara and croquettes round out the menu. Patrons can sip fresh fruit juices, beer, or wine and finish meals with creamy flan and other desserts while observing the footwork of Brazilian soccer teams on the flat-screen TV.
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.
A small flight of stairs leads guests down into a rustically decorated room, which evokes the ambiance of a subterranean wine cellar with its earthen arches, barrel-lined walls, and soft chandelier lighting. Designed by the artisans who created Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean, the dining room appeals to a similarly nostalgic whimsy. However, the cooks slightly modernize the menu's historic European roots by introducing unexpected ingredients.
The chefs elevate simple grilled-cheese sandwiches by slipping in braised short ribs, caramelized shallots, and horseradish cream alongside the gruyere and monterey jack cheeses, and a splash of cognac adds even more richness to the silken lobster bisque. Thai barbecue-glazed tofu and basmati rice also help to distinguish the menu by lending it a distinctly international flare.
Staying true to its name, The Cellar proudly features a 1,400-bottle wine list, which, according to the staff, helped to garner the restaurant Wine Spectator's exclusive Grand Award. The selection includes familiar staples, boutique producers, and rare vintages from virtually every major wine-producing region except the Marianas Trench.
Originally the location of San Clemente's jailhouse and fire station, the retro-modern Blue Danube dishes out flame-cooked steaks, seafood, and European specialties in a renovated space that maintains original jail cells for private parties. Blend the best of surf 'n' turf with the bacon-wrapped-shrimp appetizer ($8), or beam taste buds to Budapest with the goulash soup, a substantial stew that balances meat and vegetables on its nose and twirls flavors on its fingertips ($6). Butter-drizzled shrimp scampi entertains the tongue with sizzle, snap, and a capella sea shanties ($15), and the flame-kissed pepper steak ($21) and the wiener schnitzel ($15 and up) waltz with appetites to the tune of the restaurant's namesake. The plump pillows of apple or cheese strudel may inspire overjoyed strangers to spontaneously wed in Blue Danube's in-house chapel ($5).