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.
When they’re not competing in the World Salsa Championships on ESPN and placing in the top 10, Sergio Jasso and Gabriela Equiz-Jasso lead the team of pro instructors at Alma Latina Dance Company. There, they specialize in instruction for students of all ages and skill levels. Whether during private lessons or group classes, the instructors can expertly impart skills in styles such as ballet, mambo, salsa, cumbia, bachata, and rhythm and technique.
Start with a creamy platter of hummus ($4.75), garlic fries ($3.50), or sweet red beets blended with yogurt ($2.95). Main courses at Ali Baba's run the gamut from a full falafel plate ($11.95), served with pita, hummus, and salad shirazi, to seasoned and grilled lamb chops ($14.95). Meat shunners will appreciate the veggie wrap ($7.95), packed heavy with grilled eggplant, zucchini, colorful peppers, tomato, pickle, onion, and hummus. For dessert, sample a frothy piece of tiramisu ($4.95) or Persian ice cream flavored with rosewater, saffron, and pistachio ($4.95).
Lei Lounge serves up a roster of rich, savory dishes, culling inspiration from both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Roll up with a group of peckish pals and dig into a shareable meal, such as the loaded nachos, adorned with chili-spiced beef or chicken, black olives, black beans, guacamole, jalapeño peppers, and cheese ($12). The Kobe beef hotdog sliders pair tubular meats with a trio of mustard dipping sauces that complement each other better than a bikini with a matching monocle.
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.