A wall of glass flanks one side of the dining room at Hokkaido Restaurant, starting at the floor and stretching up to include a slanted portion of the ceiling. Punctuated only by wooden beams, this wall of windows floods the entire restaurant with sunlight, keeps out sushi-stealing birds, and offers a view of leafy, green trees. The sunlight slides across the bar's glossy, marble top, speckles a wall of leafy bamboo, and, most importantly, illuminates colorful plates of Japanese, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. Under photo murals of serene Asian landscapes, diners can dig into dishes ranging from pad thai and curry to orange chicken and specialty sushi rolls. Add in the karaoke that animates restaurant-goers on weekends, and the result is a vibrant environment equally suited to intimate dinners and convivial gatherings.
The chefs at Essex Street Grille fill their menu with dishes ranging from fish to tempura shrimp and Jamaican pork tenderloin. They place these delectables on white plates and send them out into a dining room. Bartenders add to the scene by mixing dessert martinis with Godiva chocolate liqueur and Bailey's Irish cream. On Friday nights, a DJ blends tunes by diverse artists such as the Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, and a family of whales.
Crow's Nest Pub and Grill keeps sports fanatics fed with a combination of burgers, pizzas, and sports action beamed to 10 HDTVs. The owners have a particular affection for pool: their lounge area boasts two tables, in addition to an entirely separate pool hall, which features 12 regulation-size billiards tables and a pro shop with plenty of gear. Fuel bank shots and quick-as-a-flash chalking with appetizers such as potato skins and chicken fingers, building up to satisfying sandwiches and entrees such as fish 'n' chips and chicken parmesan.
Sports, Steaks & Spirits combines the television-studded walls of a sports bar with the hearty comfort food of a neighborhood pub. Menu items include baby back ribs and half-pound burgers, as well as more internationally inspired dishes, such as tempura-fried shrimp with coconut breading. Cooks can also top hand-stretched, thin-crust pizzas with a combination of 17 available toppings, including basil, sausage, and red onion.
Although its menu might distinguish Sports, Steaks & Spirits from other bars, guests are also welcome to just knock back a beer while watching Boston sports teams compete for control of the world’s supply of silver-plated trophies. Sixty plasma televisions line the bar’s walls, and all booths boast their own small screen, which may have prompted Patch to describe the spot as “a veritable North Reading sports haven.” Even the color scheme evokes the feel of well-trodden sports turf, surrounding visitors with yellow-green walls and pool tables lined with emerald-green felt.
Part Mexican cantina, part Irish pub, and all cop, Garcia Brogan's blends disparate cultures in both its menu and its decor, which features murals and folk art from Mexico and Ireland. Whether guests want a glass of Irish whiskey or a fine tequila, Garcia Brogan's bartenders keep the drinks flowing, pouring a river of alcohol in which tacos and shepherd's pie bob appetizingly. The restaurant hosts pub trivia nights and live Irish music on the weekends.
A Neapolitan blend of country, classical, and contemporary, The Texas Tenors made a name for themselves in 2009 as top contenders on America's Got Talent, earning their position as the competition’s top finishing vocal group. Turning ear-stalks with their genre-spanning renditions of My Way, Danny Boy, and Unchained Melody, the three offer operatic ear candy, runway-worthy eye candy, and mesquite-flavored nose candy. John Hagen brings the operatic noise, drawing on his tanker-like lungs and national experience to craft a classical sound which gets along with modern lil' doggies. JC Fisher, the romance-tending tenor, belts tunes from twangy country and gospel to show tunes and arias, and seasoned singer/actor Marcus Collins' silky vocal acrobatics add a contemporary edge. With an ongoing world tour, The Texas Tenors are a unique phenom in the making.