Sofra's fourth-generation Turkish chef assembles a menu of authentic Turkish cuisine updated for the modern palate. After a long night of trimming the neighbor’s hedges into grazing cattle, customers can refuel with mashed zucchini, carrots, and potatoes flattened into pancakes ($9.95) and topped with yogurt and tomatoes. Adventurous diners can sample breaded and fried calf’s liver ($7.95) before savoring char-grilled, marinated cubes of lamb shish kebab ($18.95) or turkish ravioli stuffed with ground beef and topped with garlic-yogurt sauce ($14.95). Chicken chops ($15.95) lounge atop a bed of rice, char-grilled tomatoes, and green peppers, looking as appealing as a cushy mattress stuffed with hundred-dollar bills. Sofra does not charge a corkage fee, encouraging guests to bring their own libations.
Muscle Maker Grill grew out of a small smoothie shop, where owner Rod Silva prepared health-conscious alternatives to fast food. The restaurant has since expanded with a menu tailored to accommodate diners with vegetarian, carb-free, and gluten-free diets. The new "lighter side" menu features healthy treats that are 400 calories or less under $5.99. The crew prides themselves in creating healthy versions of popular foods, and continues to serve the shop’s original protein shakes with favorites such as chocolate peanut butter and strawberry banana. Additionally, Muscle Maker Grill displays the calorie count for each dish on the menu.
Epernay’s executive chef Jayson Grossberg trained under legendary French chef Jean-Louis Palladin before attending New York’s Culinary Institute of America. Grossberg has used his pabulum-preparing powers for good and not evil, recently redesigning Epernay’s menu to add flavorful new dishes, such as the summer gazpacho with crab meat and lime ($10.95). Fresh-caught mussels come in three broths, such as the “a la Linda” with saffron and tomato ($15.95 single serving, $19.95 shared platter). If you'd like to keep your meal as light at a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, try a juicy beet salad with summer melon, arugula, and feta cheese ($10.95). Reward your stomach for keeping quiet during last night’s visit to the opera with an entree such as caramelized sea scallops with sweet corn, bacon, and tomato ($26.95). Or delve into the crispy duck breast with wild mushrooms, pistachios, and asparagus soaking in a sundried blueberry jus ($26.95) to enjoy a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves.
This down-home restaurant's menu hosts a heap of traditional Southern comfort foods served by an attentive and friendly staff. Start off with a scoop of hush puppies, a cornbread-pepper medley served with maple butter ($7), and then chow down on some vegetarian corn chowder ($5). Tempt Northern taste buds with new entrees, such as the Alabama blackened catfish, served with tartar sauce and a sidecar of collard greens ($16), or the fried chicken and waffles with a gob of green-bean casserole ($16). The baby-back ribs quell carnivorous cravings with a smattering of barbecue sauce and a side of fries ($17). Conclude forays into Southern cuisine with a swig of a non-alcoholic mint julep ($3) and a slice of hummingbird cake, made with pecans, pineapple, and banana, and capable of flapping its frosting 90 times per second ($6).
Ivan López, head chef and owner of Casa Piquin, dishes up modern Mexican cuisine that fuses techniques he honed in French kitchens with authentic flavors he learned to weave as a chef in Mexico. Ivan ensures the freshness of his vegetables by purchasing them himself before crafting colorful salsas and sautéed fajita bell peppers worthy of being served in an eatery whose name means "House of Peppers." Signature molcajetes—traditional hot lava-rock bowls—cradle marinated and grilled mixed vegetables, meats, and seafood, and traditional dishes are sauced in a choice of five salsas, from a rich, sweet salsa mole made with dried peppers to a piping salsa arbol that lights mouths aflame so molars can lead campfire sing-alongs. Pitchers of sangria cool down mouths, as does flambé-fried ice cream, which is torched tableside.