The fusion of robust Malaysian spices and smooth coconut milk erupts with each bite of beef rendang. Sweet and spicy notes infuse the syrupy glaze coating each morsel of general tso’s chicken. A conical seaweed wrap imbues its saltiness in slices of spicy conch. Within the red and yellow walls of Hin Lee Malaysian Chinese Restaurant, the talented chef forges a synthesis of flavors from Malaysian and Chinese traditions. On the weekends, a rice artisan rolls cuts of fresh grouper, salmon, and spicy scallop into seaweed-encased slices at a small sushi bar, where diners can sidle up to watch the master work and shout names of current events to inspire the wasabi's improve-comedy routines.
While it takes prodigious skill to man the 600-degree, 7-foot grill that is the center of bd’s Mongolian Grill’s dining room, the chefs running it don’t have any secret recipes. Instead, customers fashion their own customizable bowls of stir-fry according to their taste preferences, dietary restrictions, and desired portion size. Guests wander, nearly overwhelmed as they choose from an array of meats and veggies and ladle sweet, spicy, and herb-filled sauces into a cup. Chefs sauté the meal in front of their eyes, swords flicking skillfully across the grill to entertain and build anticipation like a mime about to jump buses on an invisible motorcycle. The resulting stir-fry dishes are accompanied by brown rice, white rice, tortillas or lettuce wraps.
When searching for the perfect place to open up their new eatery, Fish Tales Seafood & Steak House owners Dan and Peggy Wesner got all the way to the edge of the ocean, threw up their arms, and said, "good enough." Today, their endeavor has paid off, and diners from near and far come to feast on the restaurant's flaky fish sandwiches. Each day, the kitchen releases its bounty of freshly caught whitefish and tuna onto plates, serving it in steak, fillet, or sandwich form. Chefs also assemble steak, chicken, and salmon into skillets, which arrive to tables chock-full of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and green beans.
Fish Tale’s marina-side location attracts visitors from water and land, with room to dock your sailboat or warmongering naval flotilla. Wooden benches and tiki accoutrements adorn the dining room, and bartenders at the eatery’s two waterfront bars dispense a bevy of frosty brews.
When she dances, Sarah Murray doesn't just use a pole—she incorporates more than 15 years of ballet and modern dance training. And as the owner of Impulse Pole Dance & Exotic Fitness, she doesn't just dance. She also teaches her sultry, graceful routines in the studio's pole dance sequence. It starts with basic spins and transitions in the mandatory Pole Foundations class, then progresses to more complex inversions and tricks such as The Phoenix, in which the dancer burns down her pole and builds a new one. FlyGym classes complement the pole sessions, with workouts conducted on an aerial system of swings to help tone physiques and enhance flexibility.
When brothers Daniel and Douglas Casey were growing up in Chicago, their dad took them on special trips to local diners. After he passed away, they founded MadFish inside a spacious Chicago train car—complete with a black-and-white checked diner floor—as their tribute to him, and as a throwback to travelers who used to come to the area via train. They’ve dialed up that diner vibe by adding interior saltwater tanks and tossing white cloths across the tables.
Chef Chris works with fresh, local seafood and prepares plenty of fine-dining steak specialties, including Angus prime rib paired with aged gorgonzola blue cheese and showered with bacon-wrapped shrimp. But there are also casual dishes and regular specials, including a daily $9.99 early-bird deal that includes salad, dinner, iced tea or coffee, and key-lime pie. The team also has fun with desserts. The deep-fried Snickers bar, for example, is lavished with raspberry topping, Belgian chocolate, whipped cream, and powdered sugar, then sprinkled with purple sugar crystals. It turns a “fair type of dessert into a five-star dessert,” says Douglas, adding that they also serve vanilla-bean shakes and hot, homemade cookies on 45-record racks.
At Fresco's Waterfront Bistro, guests lounge on an expansive wraparound patio looking out over elegantly plated dishes of shrimp and calamari to consume views of Tampa Bay. Dockside diners can pair seafood entrees with martinis, margaritas, or draught beers. As night falls, eats will be illuminated by colorful lights, which will also reflect off the water and treat local marine life to a free laser-light show.