The culinary crew at Chicken Magician dunks skinless chicken, shrimp, and other savories in house-made breading and a sizzling deep fryer to craft a menu of hearty southern fare. Patrons can crunch through the seasoned golden crust of six chunks of fried chicken to reach a fresh poultry core untouched by such common preservation methods as freezing, pickling, or dunking in molten bronze. Then savor a 20-piece order of wings smothered in mild, medium, or radioactive buffalo sauce before digging into a dozen sizzling fried shrimp. Meanwhile, a selection of side orders such as french fries or coleslaw vie for attention by doing cartwheels and backflips onto waiting tongues.
Tongues of flame twist in a fireplace, hinting at the warmth filling the bustling kitchen at MK Valencia. Rail lighting spills a blue aura over dishes that draw from myriad culinary traditions. Mediterranean flavors shine through in salmon drizzled in a pesto sauce and lamb osso bucco. In the dining room, glasses clink occasionally like a xylophonist failing a performance review, setting a tempo for the wait staff, which totes roasted salmon in a pesto sauce.
A curtain of bubbles rises up through champagne cocktails in lively colors that match the crescent-shaped orange booths or electric-blue wine racks. During warmer months, the murmur of conversation spills out onto a patio draped with live plants.
Since its founding in 1948, the family-owned Luigi’s Restaurant has created a wide selection of Italian favorites. From house-made gnocchi in a light tomato cream sauce and imported romano cheese to prosciutto- and mozzarella-stuffed pork chops, the menu caters to the entire family’s tastes—also presenting kids’ options. Beyond the family-friendly dining room—whose padded booths look extra comfy juxtaposed with chest-high stone walls—the eatery has a bar. Here, libation-makers pour out wines and offer up a condensed food menu, which does not mean the mozzarella sticks are only 4 millimeters long. They also shake up specialty martinis, such as the flirt-tini—a fruity beverage born of the flirtations between an orange-flavored vodka and pineapple juice.
Puerto Vallarta Restaurant incorporates a taste of the Mexican coast into its menu of south-of-the-border dishes made from fresh ingredients. Bright green, orange, and blue plates hoist fresh snapper, clams, mussels, and shrimp. The kitchen’s hot grills leave their trademark lines and phone numbers across flank steak, pork, and chicken, each topped with a different accoutrement, such as jalapeños or pineapple sauce. Chefs also sate classic Mexican cravings with dinner staples, including enchiladas, fajitas, and tacos.
Gateway of India's authentic ambiance houses fragrant aromas from a wide selection of classic Indian cuisine. Tantalizing appetizers such as the vegetable pakora summon appetites with veggies battered in lightly seasoned lentil flour, and the kebab sampler dispenses spears of chicken, lamb, and fish—provided they're not touring as an alternative-country trio. Delicious flats of naan bread sop up sauces and act as makeshift bibs bursting with flavors of garlic, coconut and cherries, or unleavened whole-wheat grains. Gnaw on entrees such as the lamb korma—decadent pieces of spiced lamb swimming in onion, cashew, and almond cream sauce—or nibble the palak paneer, a dish of homemade Indian cheese and spinach. A selection of classic dishes such as chicken tikka masala and goat biryani with rice challenge exotic combinations such as lobster curry to freestyle Bollywood dance-offs.
At The Mucky Pup, the hot dog chefs pride themselves on providing no-frills comfort food without fancy names and obscure ingredients. But there are two ingredients they'd never add to their hot dogs and fries: squeeze cheese and yellow mustard. Instead, they top their franks with everything from chili, real slices of cheese, hearty mustard, and the house's dirty kraut.
Their signature hot dog is the crack dog, with the juicy hot dog wrapped in a slice of bacon and set upon a scrambled egg patty and slice of cheese. But hot dogs aren't their only specialty. They also cook up triangles of baked mac 'n' cheese and drizzle french fries in a choice of savory sauces. They top fries with cheese and chili to create a classic American side, or use brown gravy and cheese to approximate Canadian poutine fries. The house drinks are just as unpretentious as the food, with bottles of Yoo-hoo and Stewart's soda that bring back memories of childhood without the sadness of getting birthday cards from old toys.