Every day at all of El Nopal’s locations, cooks whip up fresh batches of salsa, chips, and beans. The sauces and sides accent chicken or beef chimichangas, handmade tamales, and nachos smothered in cheese. All El Nopal locations offer complimentary chips and salsa with every meal, and some locations have outdoor seating areas. Performances by live bands at select locations serve as a pleasant distraction from meals, unlike a judge with highfalutin ideas about not eating in court.
The Spaghetti Shop's chefs pair the long noodles with classic toppings, including marinara and meatballs, as well as with more unique toppings, including barbecue sauce. They also pop the noodles in the oven for gooey spaghetti bakes. Whatever spaghetti or specialty pasta dish patrons order at the restaurant, they can sop up the accompanying sauce with unlimited pieces of housemade garlic bread.
The chefs also send out their pasta dishes, garlic bread, and gourmet fudge brownies to weddings or corporate and private events, and they offer takeout meals perfect for a family dinner that's quick and tasty, unlike a partially defrosted bag of frozen peas.
Maritime munchers can lounge in the soothing ambience of the Ohio River and passing boats while perusing the tasty sights of the menu. Sun-gazing feasters can grab a table on the expansive summertime outdoor patio to properly enjoy a three cheese burger ($9.50) or one of many sandwiches, including the oven toasted Mediterranean vegetable sandwich with zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, mozzarella and parmesan. Indoor diners can sit in the stone-walled lodge while satiating an appetite with a delicious medley of New York strip steak ($29), glazed salmon ($18) or a platter of fried or broiled cod, shrimp and scallops served with cole slaw and steak fries ($19). Thirsty sailors can cure a dry throat with one of four draft beers or more than 20 bottled selections, as well as a vast listing of white and red wines and specialty cocktails such as Captain's Lemonade, which is shaken up with Three Olives Citron, triple sec, sweet and sour mix and a splash of lemon-lime soda. Captain's Quarters Riverside Grille also regales guests with occasional live musical entertainment and tales of nautical adventures hunting mythical sea creatures such as the Lochness monster and Hulk Hogan.
In the mornings, chef Darnell Ferguson can be found at SuperChef's Breakfast, folding local produce, meats, and baked goods into inventive breakfast sandwiches. But come lunchtime, the gourmet chef heads over to Bloom's Lunch Cafe, where he turns his attention to crisp artisanal salads, smoky bacon burgers, and BLTs with candied bacon. The chef pulls culinary inspiration from years of high-end experience, having captained the kitchens of prestigious restaurants and cooked for US delegates and a former president.
Shiny golden spheres congregate by a cozy fireplace inside Arata Sushi's dining room. Though they're attached to the wall, they seem to drift across space like tiny suns or undersea bubbles. Perhaps they're an homage to the fish that comprise the restaurant's colorful sushi lineup, which the Courier-Journal has dubbed "highly imaginative." In the kitchen, chefs whorl fresh seafood with rice and veggies to form more than 45 types of maki. Several rolls, such as the Cardinal, showcase fruits such as kiwis and strawberries alongside savory ingredients such as fried shrimp and cream cheese. At the bar, diners can sip wine and sake while watching the chefs slice bright-orange salmon and tuna as red as a comet wearing a clown nose.
Succulent aromas and a symphony of sizzling meat emerge from Cast Iron Steak House's kitchen, where bacon-wrapped filets and rib eye steaks sear inside of cast-iron skillets. For each of these steakhouse favorites, the staff personally cuts and rubs aged USDA beef in-house. Though it's their specialty, the team's expertise extends beyond steaks, as they offer a variety of chicken and fish entrees. A side dish and salad accompany most main course menu selections.