Cuts of filet mignon aged up to 35 days steam under coats of béarnaise sauce, and kurobuta pork chops glisten with drizzled necklaces of cherry butter. Skuna Bay-Vancouver Island craft-raised salmon mingles with a citrus-saffron marmalade and seared diver scallops flaunt a garlic-dijon beurre blanc. At Manhattan Steak & Seafood, chefs see the culinary world as a grand soiree, mixing and mingling plates accessorized with stunning sauces and accents—each capturing its own admirers. Their fish have flown in from around the world and their steaks have been aged more than a month, but even these can’t overshadow the fraternity of wild game: bison, elk, boar, and ostrich.
The aromas of pepper and garlic fill the restaurant's five themed rooms. The "Red Room" derives its name from richly upholstered crimson booths, which stand in contrast to stark white walls. The wine cellar is illuminated by sconces set into castle-like stone walls. Jazz musicians descend on the lounge area Wednesdays–Saturdays, prompting foot-traffic on the hardwood dance floor. Live music also adds a distingué touch to the Sunday champagne buffet brunch, which features tables of colorful pastries, carving stations brimming with meat, and unlimited champagne.
The flavors you'll find most prominently at Go Fresh are those of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins marinated in Mediterranean spices. Flavorful juices and healthy smoothies take center-stage, with staff blending together yogurt with options such as the Jade made with kale, spinach, four citrus fruits, and mint. And though the juices are healthy on their own, staff can boost protein and nutrient levels with add-ins such as whey protein or chia seeds.
On the other side of the menu, chefs focus on Mediterranean dishes blended with flashes of Indian flavors. This results in fusion dishes such as protein bowls filled with chicken in a mango curry sauce, served with a choice of rice or naan. They use a range of healthy ingredients, from wild salmon stacked onto kabobs to crispy falafel balls filled with hearty chickpeas and spices.
Mariscos La Nueva Ola not only livens up palates, but ears and eyes as well. On weekends, live mariachi bands blast horns and strum strings in the glow of the dining room's hand-painted murals. These festive touches—and special events such as karaoke—lure guests to the multicolored scene. But it's the Mexican menu's emphasis on quality seafood that keeps them returning.
At El Zocalo Mexican Steakhouse, the sounds of sizzling shrimp and chicken fajitas mingle with the horns and strumming guitars of banda and mariachi music. Servers add sight and smell to the sensory party by carting out colorful plates of parillada meat grills. The menu's grilled meats complement a sizable selection of seafood—lobster and salmon, to name a couple. But they also pair nicely with refreshing provisions such as cocktails and buckets of beer sourced from a 21-and-over sandbox.
In 2014, Gayot hailed Ways & Means Oysters as one of Orange County's 10 Best Seafood Restaurants. It's just the latest in the heap of praise hoisted upon chefs Justin Odegard and Ben Wallenbeck. The reason for all the hubbub: craft seasonal dishes that highlight the fresh flavors of sustainably caught seafood.
Culled from the raw bar and cocktail menus, customizable towers can sport everything from prawns and crab claws to oysters from a daily-changing selection. On the cooked-seafood front, Justin and Ben specialize in everything from creamy lobster bisques to clams tossed with linguini or right into the arms of juggling patrons. Seafood aside, the duo grills 16-ounce prime ribeyes, aged for 40 days, and assemble seasonal specials for vegetarians. Regardless of what fills the plates, all meals unfold in a spacious dining room of red booths and sparkling chandeliers, and complement libations such as rum flights and international wines.
Although it now has more than 430 locations in 28 countries, Hooters wasn’t always welcomed by the public. In fact, when it opened in October 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, the founders of the restaurant were “quickly detained for impersonating restaurateurs,” according to the company's website. But the restaurant was able to prove it was more than just a pretty face—that it was serious about serving tasty American food and frosty brews—and its popularity exploded in the decades to follow.
Amid its beach-themed vibe and flat-screen TVs, Hooters still fuels appetites with original chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Of course, nobody carries those casual eats and icy pitchers better than the Hooters girls. To complement their friendly smiles, their uniforms harken back to the ones the original waitresses wore in 1983: orange hot shorts and white tank tops with the emblematic owl on the front—though that owl has lost its Lionel Richie perm.