The saloons of yesteryear didn't usually stretch across12,000 square feet. But at Cowboys Saloon, a modern take on the watering holes of the Old West, visitors have plenty of space to dig into a hearty meal, grab drinks from one of three full liquor bars, or kick up their spurred heels on the 2,000-square-foot dance floor. Live concerts, weekly events, three pool tables, and a mechanical bull help the saloon attract passersby and extroverted tumbleweeds to its tables.
Recently opened Poolhouse Grill regales guests with juicy burgers and ocean-fresh seafood amid an upbeat club-inspired atmosphere. Framed by multicolored beams of light and waving palms, the restaurant's façade draws visitors in to celebrate DJ-fueled dancefests on weekends, or rock 'n' roll–powered discussions about Robert M. Pirsig with bikers on Wednesdays. Sports fans belly up to the bar to watch their favorite sports legends on the arsenal of flat-screen TVs, and occasional beer-pong tournaments prepare amateurs for the rigors of professional ping-pong chucking.
A sprinkling of mediterranean spices makes its way into many of the dishes at Venicia Cafe & Grill. Chefs toss flavorful handfuls atop filets mignons, hide them inside falafel patties, and allow them to seep inside salmon with a wine-and-lemon marinade. Other staple Mediterranean dishes that leave the kitchen include creamy hummus with gyro, stuffed grape leaves, and spinach pie. After meals, puffs of scented smoke float around hookahs and a disco ball lights up the dance floor as patrons sway their hips, stomp their feet, and toss one another in the air.
In a dining room decorated with Egyptian-inspired artwork, visitors to Exotic Bites enjoy a tableau of Mediterranean dishes that range from tender gyros to rich and creamy hummus. Warm pita wraps around sizzling shawarma, lamb kebabs, or kebah, a combination of minced beef, pine nuts, and ground lamb, and stuffed falafels are comprised of a crunchy chickpea patty filled with minced beef, chicken, or sautéed vegetables. The occasional tendrils of hookah smoke spiral into the air, spun from the lips of friends chatting at a table or reclining in a cushioned corner decorated with a vivid wall hanging. More hookah pipes line up against a wall shelf, spaced between the chalkboard menu of daily specials and framed pictures.
Pool sharks and bar flies can play out their own personal film noir against the slinky backdrop of Lucky Pocket Billiards. Figures around Russian-imported pool tables chalk their cues while their companions send colorful balls whizzing across the felt to clack into pockets. Against the other wall, the sound of bubbly chatter rises up from groups seated on black-leather couches. Over the bar, Christmas lights twinkle, sending kaleidoscopic colors glinting off pints of Samuel Adams, Budweiser, and AmberBock. A television mounted on the wall broadcasts sporting events or the latest report on the theft of a famous ornithological statue.
Voted "Best Bar" in 2011 by the New Times, Whiskey Tango All American Bar & Grill whets appetites with an eclectic menu of dishes inspired by America's culinary topography. Chef Elliott’s spaghetti sandwich gives dizzy forks a whirling respite with its buttery loaf of toasted garlic bread stuffed with juicy chicken, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and cascading ringlets of spaghetti ($8.95). Pursed lips can slurp spoonfuls of Georgia sweet vidalia onion soup, crowded with caramelized slivers of vidalia petals and capped with melted cheddar cheese ($5.95) before bare teeth shred tender morsels off a main course of St. Louis–style ribs ($13.95 for a half rack; $16.95 for a full rack). Like eating steak with chopsticks, the San Diego tuna nachos synthesize distinct food identities by topping fried wanton chips with slices of sushi-grade tuna cooked rare, seaweed salad, and pickled ginger ($13.95).