You could say that Shamim and Riffat Rana are passionate about Asian cuisine. So passionate, in fact, that they have overcome great odds to become—and remain—a local go-to dining establishment. The duo founded the original O's Place in Woodlawn in 2002, growing their cozy eatery through hard work, dedication, and support from the community. By 2005, their success necessitated a move to a larger space on Security Boulevard. But three years later, it looked as though their good fortune might come to an end: that’s when the thriving eatery burned down in an electrical fire.
Somehow, Shamim and Riffat never lost hope. Instead, they found a new culinary home on the second floor of Seoul Plaza, where patrons now sit in the food court outside or within the eatery’s charming dining room decorated with Asian-inspired artwork and flowers. Using the same culinary formula that gained the restaurant its initial popularity, the family-friendly eatery boasts a large assortment of Chinese and South Asian buffet dishes, kept warm and working on their tans under heat lamps. For specific cravings, diners may also order from lunch and dinner menus full of Pakistani and Indian specialties, including tandoori chicken and beef nihari.
Paradise Indian Cuisine (Formerly Indiclub) is a modern Indian restaurant which takes its inspiration from the age old dining. This approach allows you to choose a variety of appetizers and entrees to share with your dining companions.
Behind ground-to-ceiling glass windows, giant butterflies flutter in the sunlight. Though they’re only paintings, they cheerfully greet visitors to Vernisage, introducing the upscale restaurant’s often-whimsical atmosphere. Despite the lighthearted decor, chefs practice serious interpretations of traditional Russian, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern fare. They craft grilled shish kebabs, peppery dumplings, crepes, and hearty Russian stews using the same recipes that czars once used to melt invading snowmen armies. Servers pair both chilled and hot fare with a range of Georgian, Russian, and European wines to evoke exotic flavor bouquets. A large main dining hall can accommodate grand banquets, while a separate private dining room hosts smaller groups of up to 30 revelers or 60 children standing on each other’s shoulders.
Of all of New York’s exports, perhaps one of the most ubiquitous is the New York–style bagel. In the early 20th century, a Polish immigrant named Isador Goldberg came to New York and brought his own recipe for this classic baked good with him, and it’s in his honor that the owners of Goldberg’s New York Bagels decided to name their shop. The Zagat-rated bakers still use Goldberg’s original recipe, assembling ingredients from scratch, boiling the halos of dough, and finally baking them to give each bagel the perfect crunch that pairs well with a schmear of cream cheese or a layer of lox. Though the bagels come in a range of sweet and savory flavors, all of them are kosher-certified and easily pair with other breakfast items such as omelets, four flavors of blintzes, and waffles. The shop opens at 7 a.m. to serve both breakfast and lunch all day, allowing clients to stock up on staples such as sandwiches, frozen yogurt, or salad-bar selections all day long.
Café Fresh proves that speedy service doesn't have to preclude healthy choices. Straw devotees and toothless fairies can select from an enticing menu of smoothies ($4.29–$5.29) that sports both classic fruit concoctions and unusual blends, like the avocados and cream creation, with soy milk, nonfat frozen yogurt, avocado, banana, coconut cream, and agave. Boost your smoothie's bastions with a free fortifying supplement, or get your nutrients in the solid form with a protein- and veggie-packed wrap or panini. In addition to forging bonds between nutritious and delicious, Café Fresh serves all food and drinks in 100% biodegradable cups, and packaging materials are made entirely out of adopted corn.
Gourmet Again emphasizes fresh groceries and homemade goods in its myriad marketplace departments. In addition to fresh meat, seafood, and produce options, guests can spring for picnic fare or fall into a summer lunch with Gourmet Again's extensive deli menu. Here, shoppers can top their choice of bread—options include rye, pita, Kaiser roll, multi grain, whole wheat, and French roll—with meats, condiments, and extras such as bacon, cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. Indulge in egg salad ($4.95), dominate the Old Dominion flavor of Virginia baked ham ($7.50), or sink mouth hooks into jumbo shrimp salad ($9.50). Baked goods are also plentiful, with a wide assortment of daily-changing oven offerings such as pastries, fresh fruit pies, and homemade cookies.