While trekking across New Zealand, Matt Baker and PJ Lamont stumbled upon a burger shack in Queenstown and immediately became addicted to the eatery’s organic, grass-fed beef patties. According to a profile in Beach & Bay Press, the duo often dined there more than once a day and eventually convinced the chef to both part with his recipes and train them how to make them. Upon returning home, the pair recruited PJ’s brother Martin for their budding endeavor: a gourmet burger place that would rely entirely on organic, grass-fed beef from New Zealand. After finding the right spot for their gastropub, the three put their own sweat into renovating it; PJ carved the wooden menu himself without using a woodpecker even once.
That menu quickly garnered its fair share of media buzz and awards by combining beef patties, ground fresh daily, with unique ingredients such as pesto aioli, grilled pineapple, and beetroot. Organic, local vegetables make up the condiments and the house tomato chutney, New Zealand’s hardier version of ketchup. But Bare Back Grill does more than burgers, satisfying appetites with natural chicken and lamb, tempura tofu, and seared ahi tuna coupled with a wide selection of beers and wines. Guests can gulp down Kiwi Steinlagers or sip Australian and New Zealand wines while lounging at either Bare Back location.
Every day at Toast Enoteca & Cucina, Mario Gonzalez performs a brilliant balancing act between tradition and innovation. Having trained in Italy under renowned chefs, he's mastered the fundamentals of Italian cooking, and his expertise shines in homemade pastas, sauces, and breads. However, his knack for experimentation has also led to modern showstoppers, such as pizza topped with octopus ragu. These meals have made his name synonymous with San Diego's Italian food scene?and secured him a job as a caterer for the San Diego Padres whenever the team has trouble firing up the dugout smoker.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Gonzalez's balancing act, however, is the wine. Toast has up to 400 wines on its award-winning list, with varietals from New Zealand, Argentina, Germany, and Spain in addition to Italy. But this classic accompaniment to dinner is often delivered in what looks like a science-fiction device: an Enomatic machine, designed to pour wine by the glass while keeping it fresh within the bottle.
Dublin Square Irish Pub & Grill doesn't just look like a piece of Ireland?it actually is a piece of Ireland. Before getting shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to its home in the Gaslamp Quarter, the pub was manufactured on the island by O'Sullivan Interiors. What's more, it's based on an authentic pub whose roots stretch back to the early 1700s. Guests can experience this homage by sidling up to the Irish oak bar, or toasting themselves next to the cast-iron fireplace in the Victorian Lounge.
Of course, the food and drink are likewise Irish-inspired: beer-battered fish and chips, Guinness-braised beef, and an Irish lamb stew loaded with potatoes, onions, carrots, and fresh Colorado lamb. On certain nights, the pub buzzes with trivia competitions, karaoke performances, and sets from live bands.
The bottle service and decadent cuisine attract their own legions of fans, but U-31 Bar is perhaps best known for its dance floor. That's where DJs and bands catalyze all-night parties practically every single night of the week. From Rad Karaoke Tuesdays, to live sets from the likes of The Disco Villains and Audrey Napoleon, U-31's agenda book is almost always full. This affords party lovers ample opportunities to meet, mingle, show off their new club duds, and acclimate the horses they ride everywhere to the presence of strobe lights. While nocturnal revelry is U-31's specialty, many visit for the grub, such as burgers, steak fajita nachos, and deep-fried pizza. Yes, deep-fried pizza?the slice, already topped with bacon and extra-sharp Monterey, is battered and fried to order.
At Mad House Comedy Club, audiences sip on cocktails and feast on pub grub such as house-smoked pulled-pork sandwiches and grilled cheeses stuffed with crab meat, all while nationally touring comedians split their sides with calculated punch lines. Throughout the dining room and performance area, pictures of beloved comedians inspire comics to rise to the hilarious heights of Bill Cosby, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ingmar Bergman and his angst-riddled dummy, Skippy.
Brow Lounge's skin-smoothers use organic and high-end waxes to clear men's and women's bodies of hair, customizing their approaches to suit skin of varying sensitivity. In extensive depilation services, staff transform Grouch Marx brows into artfully arched eye awnings ($15), mow upper-lip lawns ($9), or bulldoze underbrush with a Brazilian ($60). Man-hair can be cleared from backs ($40+), chests ($40+), and stomachs ($10) to reveal once-obscured tattoos of obsolete Southeast Asian countries. Inside Brow Lounge, chandeliers cast warm light over newly hairless patrons and shelves stocked with face-enhancing makeup. Groupon-holders get 10% off such mineral-based items as liquid foundations ($28–40), pressed foundation powder ($30), and bronzers ($16–$39).