Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with an instructor as the teachers assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Bartenders mix more than 30 specialty martinis at Lounge 33, a riverside bar that owes its sophistication to owners Angela and George Tavaglione. The owners’ extensive menu of mixed drinks includes nods to highbrow entertainment, including The Godfather, a drink that fuses Johnnie Walker Green Label and Disaronno amaretto, or the Dirt and Spice martini, an avant-garde combination of Absolut Peppar and olive juice, Tapatio hot sauce, and lemon. Though the focus is on mixed drinks, the Tavagliones also stock wine and beer, while their skilled cooks prepare flatbread pizzas and italian meatball sandwiches guaranteed not to pop a meatball out and send it rolling to the top of Mount Smokey.
Ra Pour's executive chef, Greg Stillman, draws upon culinary wisdom culled from stints at famed restaurant The French Laundry to curate upscale renditions of comfort fare, nabbing buzz from Taste Terminal and a dozen other media outlets. An open kitchen affords prime views of chefs as they garnish pizzas with handmade mozzarella and truffle oil before tossing them into a wood-fired oven. Succulent meats from local farms boast exotic flourishes such as North African–style harissa, Buddha’s hand marmalade, and a single unicorn tear. Live beats flow from a raised DJ platform toward the bar, where mixologists fashion original cocktails against a backdrop of dramatic green and purple lighting.
Aqua Restaurant & Lounge, located within Holiday Inn Irvine Spectrum, serves up classic American cuisine as well as gourmet specialties. In the morning, breakfast platters and cups of RainForest Alliance coffee give diners enough energy to race a taxi on foot on the way to work. Later on, chefs prepare heirloom salads and signature dishes such as the Philly West, a gourmet riff on the philly cheesesteak that pairs shaved filet mignon with housemade Jack Daniels au jus and melted provolone. A full bar, 50-inch plasma TV, and sleek decor round out the hotel-lounge experience.
The restaurant's chef and owner, John Randall, employs more than 30 years of experience to grill up a wide variety of fresh seafood, certified Angus steak, and hearty sandwiches. Rev up digestion engines with one of John's starters, which include such Neptunian delights as fried calamari and smoked salmon pizza ($3.50–$9.50). Hearty entrees, such as prime rib, a swordfish sandwich, and scallop scampi, muscle out hunger ($9.95–$18.95), while a bevy of soups and salads stand on the sidelines, waiting to be tagged in if the bacon cheeseburger sprains its condiments ($4.50–$10.50). At the full bar, 15 different beers and more than 20 wines, several from California, supplement rising salivary floodwaters.
A family Mexican restaurant by day, Tequila Bar & Grill transforms into a nightclub at night, at which point couples groove to salsa tunes played by live bands and Djs or sing Spanish and English karaoke. Patrons dine on authentic cuisine, such as tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas amid exposed brick walls and south of the border-inspired tiling.