Indian cuisine is famously complex, but diners at Koyla Indian Restaurant get at least a peek at how it's prepared. The restaurant's signature cooking method is right in the name—koyla means "coal"—and chefs use its heat in full view within an open kitchen. Cinnamon and cloves, garlic and saffron fill the air as marinated chicken, shrimp, and goat simmer and sizzle. Although grounded in the cuisine of Northern India, founder Deep Singh and his chefs demonstrate a strong taste for experimentation. That's evident in the large menu's Indo-Chinese section, which holds hybrids such as chili paneer—the traditional Indian cheese spiked with house-made chili sauce. Pesto chicken and calamari masala reflect Singh's time as the proprietor of a small Italian cafe.
A mural of an especially cuddly-looking Taj Mahal brightens one wall of Koyla's softly-lit dining room. The motif continues as painted chili peppers wind around the room behind an ample buffet, served alongside champagne on the weekends.
Margarita Rocks is part nightclub, part restaurant, and doesn’t skimp on either end of the equation. Cooks prepare shrimp tacos, pizzas topped with carne asada, and other savory snacks, and bartenders pour made-from-scratch micheladas, margaritas, and other cold drinks until 2 a.m. Although Margarita Rocks is known for live music and raucous good times, the spot is also kid friendly, welcoming families with children until 8 p.m.
The resident chefs at McAlan's Pub & Grill channel Irish and American traditions to construct their menu of pub grub. Limber chomping muscles with starters of steamer clams ($10) whose fresh manila clams are set afloat in a pool of white-wine garlic broth. Buttermilk crackling chicken ($11) arrives accompanied by biscuits and country sausage gravy and Del Mar fish 'n' chips ($10) armor fresh cod in an exoskeleton of tempura ale batter to protect its flaky insides. All-you-can-eat brunch, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. on Sunday mornings, rewards early-rising appetites and provides late-rising roosters with a false sense of accomplishment. Stockpile offerings from the made-to-order omelet bar or pile plates high with french toast and buttermilk waffles.
Tropica Restaurant and Bar builds on classic American fare with inventive renditions of pizzas, burgers, and tacos. From behind the restaurant's sleek, wooden bar, mixologists craft cocktails and draft beers and pour sangria by the pitcher or glass. Flat-screen TVs and hanging lamps illuminate the dining area, a mere formality since forks rely on echolocation to find food.
At Ontario Improv, comics lure laughs from bellies in the hopes of following in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have graced the Improv’s stages. The club's calendar schedules comedians as often as six nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-coming performers. As they take in shows, audience members can munch on savory appetizers such as spinach-and-artichoke dip or fried calamari, and sip cocktails to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.
Although it now has more than 430 locations in 28 countries, Hooters wasn’t always welcomed by the public. In fact, when it opened in October 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, the founders of the restaurant were “quickly detained for impersonating restaurateurs,” according to the company's website. But the restaurant was able to prove it was more than just a pretty face—that it was serious about serving tasty American food and frosty brews—and its popularity exploded in the decades to follow.
Amid its beach-themed vibe and flat-screen TVs, Hooters still fuels appetites with original chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Of course, nobody carries those casual eats and icy pitchers better than the Hooters girls. To complement their friendly smiles, their uniforms harken back to the ones the original waitresses wore in 1983: orange hot shorts and white tank tops with the emblematic owl on the front—though that owl has lost its Lionel Richie perm.