A few finger-taps on the digital screens inside Ai Tunes Karaoke Lounge's private karaoke rooms unlock more than 70,000 songs in English, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, or Japanese for guest singers to choose from. Servers visit the rooms to take orders for tapas and entrees that range from Asian noodles to stone-baked naan wraps. They also pour draft beer and mix sake bombs or cocktails such as the French Connection—a smooth blend of Hennessy and Grand Marnier.
Divan Restaurant & Hookah Lounge serves Persian-influenced Mediterranean feasts amid exotic artwork, plush pillows, and flowing curtains. Hooded lanterns cast a warm glow on murals depicting a sultan's court, colorful modern canvases, and tucked-away corners where diners share mezzes amid crimson cushions or chairs wrapped in silver cloth. As they dine upon dishes such as duck confit with black-currant relish and grilled lamb with pomegranate-mint demi-glace, guests enjoy the comforts of the hookah⎯a traditional water pipe that relaxes users with smoke that combines a touch of tobacco, sweet notes from fruit molasses, and a dash of wispy ghost.
As wispy tendrils of hookah haze dissipate overhead, diners clink glasses filled with drinks such as fruit-flavored martinis and sup on plates of blackened salmon, garlic-butter grilled shrimp, and molten chocolate cakes with hints of tarragon and raspberry sauce.
The aroma of brewing organic, fair-trade coffee from Brazil wafts through the air at 50th Street Cafe during breakfast and lunch. Behind the breakfast counter, cooks work to reinvent classic breakfast dishes. They flip pancakes made with cookie dough and drizzle them with chocolate or add fresh mozzarella and basil-pesto hollandaise to unorthodox omelets. Farm-fresh eggs and housemade hash browns, early-morning staples, arrive alongside less traditional panko-battered walleye fillets. The griddle sizzles like a knight in shining armor left in a hot car, laden with half-pound patties of Cattleman?s Selection ground beef, which end up on thick-cut sourdough toast with Old Smokehouse bacon and melted swiss cheese. That heat is also reflected in the bright hues of yellow tile and orange accents as well as whimsical calico-patterned carpets. The staff at 50th Street Cafe works to reduce its collective carbon footprint by using recyclable materials.
What do you get when you cross local, farm-to-table ingredients with a southern-cooking mentality? It’s a question that Briza attempts to answer with food that stands out for its dedication to quality—yet doesn’t skimp on the playfulness. When making the menu, Executive Chef Janine Falvo was inspired by her family’s robust culinary traditions and by the chefs she worked under as she made her name in the business. From them she contracted a passion for working with only fresh and local ingredients whose flavors pop on their own merits.. Her cornmeal fried green tomatoes up the ante on the Southern staple, with a breading that melds with the acidity of its pickled shrimp accompaniment. Halibut comes on a bed of lobster homefries, in which each chunk of crustacean and each tiny, crisp potato cube contributes flavor or texture. Then there’s the organic smoked and fried chicken, which adds a new layer to a well-loved dish. Certainly it’s that creativity that played a part in previously awarding Falvo with Restaurant Hospitality's Rising Star Chef accolade. Looking around the modern-meets-baroque dining room, it’s evident that a mix of textures is just as important in the scenery as it is in the food. Velvety couches flank stainless steel cocktail tables in the bar area and the dining room cozies studded armchairs up to heavy wood tables. Everything looks touchable, yet museum-worthy—a conundrum that thankfully doesn’t apply to the pretty and magnetic food.
Part tapas restaurant and part upscale lounge, bar ONE offers a sultry retreat from Atlanta's daily bustle and peach-avalanches. The lounge's ivory sofas, artful semi-nude photos, and mirror-polished surfaces create a chic background, no matter where or how guests choose to situate themselves. The best foreground, however, is a spread of small plates that blend the classic flavors of southern food with the spices and fruits of the Caribbean. Coconut curry shrimp, for instance, shares the spotlight with sweet potato waffles, and jerk chicken is folded into quesadillas. That combination of tastes is personal for Chef Natasha Wong, who draws on culinary know-how gleaned from both her years of cooking professionally in the states and her childhood spent in the Virgin Islands helping out in her parents' kitchen.
From behind three black granite bars—the longest of which extends 36 feet—bartenders decant imported and domestic beer and shake up specialty cocktails. The posh bars, along with gold-accented black-velvet banquet seating, flank a dark-wood dance floor packed with grooving patrons perfecting dance moves and trying to pretend like they're not incredibly out of breath. Overhead, a 5-foot disco ball and a floating DJ booth lord over the raucous party, which is fueled by a premium sound system blasting popular tunes and Top 40 hits on Saturday night.
Upstairs, a horseshoe-shaped enclosed lounge with private tables, separates private parties from the dancing masses below, which VIP guests can view from a glass room that accommodates up to 125 patrons silently holding up scorecards to rate their moves.