Winner of the Santa Cruz Weekly 2013 Gold Award for Best Dance Club and Best Fancy Cocktails, Motiv expertly slings tapas-style eats and a wide selection of drinks in a lively lounge space. Tucked along Pacific Avenue and Pearl Alley in a stucco building with a corrugated-tin roof and flowering window boxes, Motiv’s serene Old World–exterior belies its energetic dance floor, sleek wooden bar downstairs, and intimate restaurant-lounge upstairs. Half pound grass-fed burgers, skirt steak dinners and Jorge's famous tacos populate the shareable menu, and top-shelf liquors are mixed into specialty cocktails. Nightly live music delivered by a stable of DJs encourages diners to extend evenings by shaking a leg or showing off neon puffy-paint monograms under the colorful disco lights.
For 80 years, the casual Courts Lounge has been slinging drafts, bottles, and mixed drinks and entertaining folks. Over the years, the staff has added 13 flat-screen TVs, free WiFi, an Internet jukebox, MegaTouch games, and karaoke to its roster of things to do while socializing. Of course, patrons can still relax with old-school bar games, including pool and darts.
Rosie McCann's specializes in twists on traditional Irish fare, tweaking classic Celtic dishes and drinks in a traditional pub setting. The menu showcases plates of irish nachos, sliced spuds slathered in jack and cheddar cheeses, olives, fresh salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and jalape?os. The Americanized version of shepherd's pie simmers grass-fed Humboldt beef and vegetables in a rich irish stock before adding a helmet of mashed potatoes au gratin. Heftier appetites can get satisfaction with bangers & mash, a Celtic take on the English classic, that douses irish sausages and garlic mashed potatoes in Guinness gravy. 10 premium imports or 4 microbrews stand ready on tap, and malt mixologists also pour specialty beer drinks such as the Black Velvet, a whistle-whetting blend of Blackthorn hard apple cider and Guinness.
The dining room echoes the colors of the Irish flag, with burnt-red walls and bright-green stained-glass windows. Guests can cozy up in plush booth seats bedecked in plaid and gaze at glass chandeliers that hang from the ceilings as they sip on mimosas or savor lunch and brunch fare.
During the challenge, teams of two or more individuals will run helter-skelter around the city in a frantic race for cash prizes and personal pride, with a first-place award of $200. Not only will participants have to solve strands of interconnected clues that would test the deductive powers of even the most seasoned consulting detective, they'll need to plot spatiotemporal stratagems while exploring undiscovered corners of the city. Although being physically fit is a plus, quick wits and wise planning will ultimately determine the winners. Participation in the challenge gets contestants a clue packet, race-number bib, and T-shirt, and fees also go toward the appealing prize pool. The website offers a regular FAQ, as well as a Groupon FAQ with further details on the intricacies of the race, what to wear the day of, why it's not okay to bring a boa constrictor, and more.
At Clubhouse, an extensive menu of creative American cuisine awaits amid a captivating collection of 30 high-definition televisions, and even higher definition cocktails. Watch a Sharks game while sinking your own great-white choppers into a plate of sliders forged from USDA Choice ground bison meat, and topped with balsamic onion jam ($11). Green-blooded guests can obviate hunger-based conundrums with the marinated portobello sliders, whose gentle deliciousness can be countered with a specialty Shark Bite cocktail ($10), an aqua-hued concoction of tequila, blue curacao, and Sunshine margarita mix that fills the drinker with the insatiable urge to nibble on Richard Dreyfus. The sleek, luxurious dining area and upscale clientele will have diners feeling that they've been transported into a sexy spy film, without the need to diffuse a pepper bomb before eating it.
When you think about Asian-inspired food, pizza probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But at Nomikai, such preconceived notions are tossed aside for a menu centered on pies with an Eastern influence loaded with non-traditional ingredients, from teriyaki meatballs and shiitake mushrooms to kimchi, nori, and crispy shallots. Still, they fall in line with the restaurant's mission to serve as a place where friends can come together and bond around easy-to-share food instead of tying all their shoelaces together. Nomikai's cuisine also pairs well with its extensive drink selection, which includes handcrafted cocktails and a variety of Japanese whiskeys and sake. These elixirs are especially handy on Friday and Saturday nights, when live DJs and musicians fill the chic space.