At first glance, Berlin looks like a simple (albeit chic) coffee shop. And while coffee is a big part of their identity, the bistro-style cafe boasts an extensive seven-page menu that carries patrons from breakfast all the way through to dinner and drinks. Chef Michelle Murufas’s seasonal selections are made from local ingredients; by day, diners can order a Mykonos omelet with artichoke hearts and feta, and for dinner, linger over shrimp and mango quesadillas or yellow chicken curry. Beyond the fresh-brewed illy coffee, servers also pour wines such as an oak-aged pinot noir and craft beers including Iceland’s Einstock White Ale. In a handsome dining room built from reclaimed brick and wood, musicians strum live music while surrounded by local artwork.
Fresh from the celebrations of its grand opening, Agaves Kitchen & Tequila enchants visitors with a mouthwatering spread of seasonal veggies, flavorful chili sauces, and tender carnitas, all capped off with infused tequilas and potent cocktails. Like a grandmother's recipe written entirely in emoticons, the bill of fare blends modern twists with deep-rooted culinary traditions, serving up achiote-kissed rib eye and chipotle-infused meatballs alongside citrusy wedge salads and beer-battered fish tacos. As they feast upon meals of adobo-marinated shrimp or chocolatey Mexican waffles, guests clink glasses filled with freshly squeezed fruit, agave nectar, and premium silver tequila amid decor of bare brick, varnished wood planks, and warm glows of crimson-hued light.
For more than a millennium, Cafe Sevilla has stood as one of Spain's great historic cities. In 1987, Spanish-born entrepreneurs Rogelio and Janet Huidobro opened the Cafe Sevilla tapas bar as a tribute to the longstanding cultural and culinary traditions of their homeland. Since then, the authentic Spanish eatery has expanded to three locations, each with a nightclub where live musicians take the stage every night in a celebration of Latin, Arabic, and gypsy music.
Cafe Sevilla's executive chef constantly experiments with his cooking, devising adventurous new dishes while highlighting cuisine from the varied regions of Spain. His menus encompass more than 40 tapas plates hailing from regions throughout Spain, such as skewers, ceviche, imported Iberian ham, and paella valenciana, a saffron-infused bomba-rice dish loaded with shellfish, Spanish sausage, and vegetables. Despite the ingenuity that suffuses the menu, one thing has remained constant: the sangria recipe, which is exactly the same as it was 25 years ago. On Saturday nights, there's an extra garnish for the cuisine: a three-course dinner is underscored by performances of flamenco, an Andalusian dance form that expresses love, pain, and passion through elaborate movement. Engaging the audience in a full sensory experience, the dancers?many of whom were trained in Spain and now run their own dance studios?are dressed in colorful, traditional garb and are chased off the stage by stampeding bulls at the end of each set.
With a bar, restaurant, and event space inspired by classic Italian design, Bliss 525 swathes guests in an upscale atmosphere. Arched doorways inside the facility open onto a floating staircase and dining tables with high-backed chairs. At mealtime, plates fill with hearty but healthy Californian fare such as Caribbean pasta, braised short ribs, and bruchetta stuffed chicken.
Each week, Bliss 525 hosts blues, jazz, rock, and soul musicians inside the bar. Guests can pair the melodic notes and tinted hues of sunset on the outdoor patio with selections from Bliss 525's full bar of fine wines, tap beers, and fresh-squeezed cocktails.
Sip Lounge, inside the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, is like a city with four distinct neighborhoods. Once guests walk past the lobby's large video wall, they're greeted by rows of wine bottles in the glass-enclosed cellar bookending the bar. Behind it, curtains billow beside a water feature that cascades along the wall like the zero-gravity streams found on the moon. Over in the dining room, large tables accommodate groups for gatherings over a local shrimp cocktail or cheese plate. The living room's plush couches cradle pairs for intimate conversations that can be shared over a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a craft beer.
Outside, the large patio embraces the busy energy of Ocean Boulevard without succumbing to it. Umbrellas, heaters, and glass walls separate its confines from the street's frenzy of beeps, brakes, and Model T hand cranks, and a focal fire pit warms both the temperature and the ambiance. The typical soundtrack of upbeat pop and instrumental music supplements Sip Lounge's live series, which hosts local artists from across Southern California.
Steven Paperno, raised in the kitchen of his parents' delicatessen, has been working with food all his life. By the age of 18, he already owned a food manufacturing company, a job that took him all over the Americas. While in Central and South America, he sampled some of the cuisine and found himself dreaming of bringing those small-village flavors to America. So, he sold his company in order to start a new one, one dedicated to infusing organic, local ingredients with the flavors he tasted abroad. He called the new joint Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill.
Inside any Sharky's location, the chefs use certified-organic beans and rice to fill out every dish they make. Hormone-free chicken and drug-free beef simmer in the open kitchen's hot pans, where guests can observe cooks adding a light dusting of chipotle spices. The fish arrives fresh from the market each morning, hand-selected for quality and chosen according to the recommendations of the West Coast Seafood Watch, which aims to prevent overfishing by encouraging restaurateurs to buy sustainably caught seafood. Imported mesquite grills and stone-fire ovens lend their kiss to each dish on the menu, bringing the authentic smoky flavor that Steven so wished to re-create without the hassles of a trashcan fire.