A lion's head stands guard over the brick oven at Pizzeria Guido & Wine Bar, bearing its fearsome jaws at any who would try to pilfer the restaurant's family recipes. Thankfully, the only way most diners attempt to gain insight into the establishment's Tuscan traditions is through the food. Slivers of buffalo mozzarella, basil, and fresh tomatoes accent antipasti plates in the colors of the Italian flag, and the wood-fired oven spills forth the aromas of prosciutto, capers, and fontina cheese topping pizzas and filling calzones. Glasses of Italian wine click together in the halos of steam rising from pastas. Waiters move through the spacious dining room, and their white dress shirts and smart red ties complement the wall's gentle orange and yellow tones, which call to mind the warming glow of a sunset or a haunted ventriloquist dummy finally burning.
Specializing in bombastic American fare, Chef Chris Nelson curates a menu of mouthwatering sandwiches, burgers, steaks, and salads. A bar remedies mouth droughts with a rotating selection of 12 draft beers, and big-screen televisions broadcast sports while the pool table extends hospitality to colorful balls.
The atmosphere at Valhalla Bar and Grill varies greatly depending on the day of the week. On Sunday, the mood is relaxed, as friends clink glasses of beer and compete in complimentary games of billiards. Come Wednesday, the joint echoes with lively music, as bold guests take the stage to perform karaoke numbers beneath the glimmer of a massive lyrics screen. Friday night is a lighthearted affair, when laughter fills the air and comedian Dr. Heckle brings a rotating cast of local and national touring comedians to the stage. On Saturday night the bar bustles with animated energy, as disco lights and laser lights illuminate the dance floor and guests dance to '80s classics. To fuel this lively schedule of events, the bar’s chefs whip up a full menu of pub favorites, including hearty club sandwiches, spicy buffalo chicken strips, and juicy burgers.
Chantanee’s menu mingles Thai classics with a variety of Asian cuisines in a culinary particle accelerator that produces delicacies such as pineapple fried rice ($12), sizzling panang duck ($18), and the phad chaa’s spicy mélange of stir-fried meats sprinkled with peppercorns, chaa paste, krachai, onion, peppers, and holy basil ($12). But the upscale restaurant’s biggest stars are its paparazzi-attracting cocktails ($10 each) and tiki drinks. One-eared painters can keep it traditional with a glass of real absinthe. Otherwise, knock back an ultra-manly Lumberjack Sling (maple-smoked bourbon, chai cider, lingonberry syrup, barrel bitters, and lemon) or finish your feast with a round of bubo floats (dark rum, crème de cacao, espresso stout, and vanilla ice cream) paired with deep-fried ice cream ($7). Chantanee's renowned team of drink doctors hand-carve every ice chip, and might whittle them skillfully into miniature busts of your favorite Surgeon General if you ask nicely.
The inside of ViaVita Café & Wine Bar traces the timeline of a single day. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast morning light onto a display case of pastries and cheeses—an addendum to the counter that bears morning coffee orders. Nearby, granite-topped tables sit far enough apart to suggest an open, Parisian patio, but close enough together to support a cross-stream of chatter over lunchtime sandwiches. The day ends on the other side of a semicircular wine bar. There, walls wearing distressed paint encapsulate a rustic alcove, where hanging plants and Greco-Roman-style pottery evoke the dining room of a hillside villa.
The decor and seasonal menu at ViaVita Café & Wine Bar champion a European-flavored escape, where diners can stop at any time for a meal, a snack, or a glass of wine. From the crepes and omelets of brunch—served with duck-fat potatoes and chocolate-orange butter—to afternoon paninis and dinners of pan-seared Alaskan salmon, meals realized by imaginative chefs spark and fuel long conversations. Imported and domestic beers, as well as wines from small vineyards on multiple continents, complement the diverse bouquet of flavors and pair especially well with cheese and charcuterie boards. During special events, guitar music acts as a soothing soundtrack for bites, and sommelier seminars instruct patrons on how to age libations without sending them to PG-13 movies alone.
Composing a week's worth of haikus out of brothy alphabet soup will leave anyone wanting a stiff drink. Today's Groupon puts libations and sea fare in the same place with $25 worth of food and drink at STIR Martini and Raw Bar for $10. The precise engineering of your meal will fill your gullet and further inspire your economic use of 17 poetic syllables.
Paddy Coyne's shares its name with a sister pub on the west coast of Ireland, but patrons don't need to compare menus to be assured of the bar's Irish bona fides: the menu boasts corned beef with cabbage, fish 'n' chips, and traditional soda bread. Along with the classic eats, patrons can enjoy freshly pulled pints and engage their brains in trivia nights, where participants can win prizes.
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