Winner of the Santa Cruz Weekly 2013 Gold Award for Best Dance Club and Best Fancy Cocktails, Motiv expertly slings tapas-style eats and a wide selection of drinks in a lively lounge space. Tucked along Pacific Avenue and Pearl Alley in a stucco building with a corrugated-tin roof and flowering window boxes, Motiv’s serene Old World–exterior belies its energetic dance floor, sleek wooden bar downstairs, and intimate restaurant-lounge upstairs. Half pound grass-fed burgers, skirt steak dinners and Jorge's famous tacos populate the shareable menu, and top-shelf liquors are mixed into specialty cocktails. Nightly live music delivered by a stable of DJs encourages diners to extend evenings by shaking a leg or showing off neon puffy-paint monograms under the colorful disco lights.
At Clubhouse, an extensive menu of creative American cuisine awaits amid a captivating collection of 30 high-definition televisions, and even higher definition cocktails. Watch a Sharks game while sinking your own great-white choppers into a plate of sliders forged from USDA Choice ground bison meat, and topped with balsamic onion jam ($11). Green-blooded guests can obviate hunger-based conundrums with the marinated portobello sliders, whose gentle deliciousness can be countered with a specialty Shark Bite cocktail ($10), an aqua-hued concoction of tequila, blue curacao, and Sunshine margarita mix that fills the drinker with the insatiable urge to nibble on Richard Dreyfus. The sleek, luxurious dining area and upscale clientele will have diners feeling that they've been transported into a sexy spy film, without the need to diffuse a pepper bomb before eating it.
Supervised by a Culinary Institute of America–trained chef, kitchen staff at Arka simmer gourmet Indian fare, filling a colorful dining room with savory aromas. The seasonal menu fuses tastes from both the Northern and Southern sectors of the subcontinent to create rich curries as well as regional specialties such as chickpea masala or lentil dumplings. Waiters can suggest wine or beer pairings such as Indian Kingfisher beer or Spanish rioja, and printed symbols on the menu indicate which entrees are gluten-free, vegan, or favored by Batman.
Arka—which means "sun"—surrounds diners in brilliant color as they tuck into their elegantly plated fare. Crimson walls melt into goldenrod, lime green, and purple, and one surface hosts a mural of the restaurant's namesake celestial body.
The heart of the Kinara Lounge kitchen is its fiery clay tandoori oven, which crackles with baking naan breads and sizzling tandoori meats from noontime until dusk. Chefs bustle about the oven, seasoning pans of chicken, lamb, and seafood specialties with flavorful spices while peeking into pots filled with bubbling biryani rice. Servers transport plates to the dining room, where hanging red lights casts a glimmer on bottles of premium liquors and a flat-screen television. Come lunch time, the servers stack a sweeping buffet with simmering platters of fresh Indian specialties, enabling diners to sample a diverse selection of curries, tandoori dishes, and sauces.
Mandala Lounge takes its name from the Sanskrit word for circle, and in that spirit, it aims to create an experience that fully connects friends, signature cocktails, upscale ambiance, and live entertainment. Here, chicly dressed patrons congregate in the Asian-inspired lounge or on the heated outdoor patio, backed by decade-spanning spins from the rotating line-up of DJs or, in the case of a private party, the host’s own MP3 player or yodeling personal assistant. The cocktail list bears a similarly pan-Asian attitude—the Tokyo Decadence blends pear vodka, rose syrup, cranberry juice, and soda, and the Fit to be Thai’d sweetens palates with ginger vodka, saint germain, pomegranate liqueur, and muddled basil. Aside from cocktails, the bar tenders also pour a selection of single-malt scotches and Asian beers.