Boasting Michelin stars and three decades of culinary experience, executive chef Patrick Ponsaty pilots a team that creates upscale seafood and contemporary gourmet fare. Ponsaty’s colleagues include young chefs Gianina Dicicco and Mike Reidy, who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and the New England Culinary Institute. Dishes with modern, imaginative flavors include squid-ink risotto, veal cheeks with orange-blossom mousse, and hibiscus-pomegranate consommé. Each creation is a work of visual art, too, with colorful spices, marbleized sauces, and carefully stacked ingredients arranged to resemble Rodin’s The Thinker.
The restaurant's chef and owner, John Randall, employs more than 30 years of experience to grill up a wide variety of fresh seafood, certified Angus steak, and hearty sandwiches. Rev up digestion engines with one of John's starters, which include such Neptunian delights as fried calamari and smoked salmon pizza ($3.50–$9.50). Hearty entrees, such as prime rib, a swordfish sandwich, and scallop scampi, muscle out hunger ($9.95–$18.95), while a bevy of soups and salads stand on the sidelines, waiting to be tagged in if the bacon cheeseburger sprains its condiments ($4.50–$10.50). At the full bar, 15 different beers and more than 20 wines, several from California, supplement rising salivary floodwaters.
History is full of illustrious matches: Antony and Cleopatra, Woody and Mia Farrow, Romeo and Master P. Today’s Groupon brings you the successor in this historic pairing lineage: wine and grilling. For $30, you’ll get $65 worth of food and drink at Firefly Grill & Wine Bar, an Encinitas eatery where grilled fare and great bottles live happily ever after in a charming fantasyland where everyone is best friends with their stomachs. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
Red C Lounge's no-frills show posters promise two things: chest-pounding beats and plenty of drinks. DJs deliver those beats in a variety of styles, delving into the jazz-influenced rhythms of deep house on Tuesdays or sampling the long-forgotten hooks of obscure soul or jazz on Rare Groove Fridays. The bartenders also offer a variety of drink service, sliding gin cocktails to customers seated on bar stools or providing bottle service for those who stake a claim to a table by draping their pants over a chair.
Executive chef Aaron Venezuela helms a cadre of culinary wizards to assemble La Fiesta's menu of fresh seafood and authentic regional dishes. Limber chomping muscles with appetizers such as toritos ($8.50 lunch; $10.95 dinner), which fill four mild yellow chilies with a duet of crab and shrimp that sings sea shanties on its way down the esophagus. Deep-fried chimichangas ($15.95 dinner) stuffed with chicken or beef turn the familiarity of a burrito on its head while the carnitas uruapan combines tender chunks of pork, cooked slowly in the traditional Mexican style, with an entourage of red onions, lime, and cilantro ($12.95 lunch; $16.95 dinner). Seafood dishes such as the pescado azteca ($16.95 lunch; $19.95 dinner), which drizzles its pan roasted mahi-mahi and tequila-flamed prawn with a roasted poblano pepper sauce, allows diners to sample the flavors of the Gulf without the hassle of raiding an orca's pantry. Post-meal cool-downs begin with mexican churros sidled up next to Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce ($7.95 dinner).
Zen Cafe’s chefs have honed the art of inventive hand rolls, working in the media of seaweed, sushi rice, and fresh fish. Serious dinner diners can loosen up chopstick implants with manila-fried chicken skewers ($7) or a sashimi trifecta of maguro, hamachi, and nama sake pieces ($16). Wrapped-up eight-piece edibles include the assertive Seal the Deal roll ($11), stocked with crab and avocado before being deep-fried and decorated with shrimp, avocado, and eel sauce, and the classic california roll ($7). Brave eaters can conquer the Godzilla roll ($11), loaded with spicy tuna and tempura-fried, then garnished with a seaweed salad, seared tuna, and sriracha—a traditional sauce made from sun-ripened chilis and one-a-day whale vitamins. Swigs of Midori melon sake ($7) soothe hard-tasting tongues, and creamy swallows of white-chocolate-glazed ricotta cheesecake ($5) prep throats for singing to tunes on the dance floor.