It's hard to define the vibe at American Junkie. Is it a sports pub? Is it a dance club? A craft-beer bar? In truth, it's a bit of all of these things, with the atmosphere and activities changing from the time it opens to the closing of the doors late into the night (3 p.m.?10 p.m. on Sundays or until 4 p.m.?2 a.m. Wednesday?Saturday). Oftentimes, the cheers of sports fans ring out as they follow American Junkie's resident teams: the Seattle Seahawks and the Ohio State University Buckeyes. The 20 HD plasma TVs also beam all the major UFC, boxing, and tickle fights.
Beneath several of the screens stretches a circular bar, where bartenders mix cocktails and pour all-American spirits?including craft beers, whiskey, bourbon, and wines sourced from California. But those drinks only account one part of American Junkie's menu. The rest comes from the kitchen, where chefs bake pizzas over mesquite wood, make grilled cheese sandwiches with gouda and crisp green apple slices, and slather ribs in barbecue sauce.
Meals often begin with housemade potato chips (complete with blue cheese dressing for dipping) and end in something truly decadent: a dessert called Half Baked. Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup cover a half pound of cookie dough, which is baked in a deep-dish pan.
Just past the vault door lies The Mint’s most valuable treasures: trays of expertly crafted cocktails and martinis. Housed in 7,000 square feet of a former bank building, The Mint nods to its previous life with money-themed drinks and rich, Asian-inspired tapas from a menu conceptualized by the restaurant's executive chef, Johnny Chu. Small plates of loganberry shrimp, wasabi sliders, and flash-fried sugar-cane pork take their place at booths cut with dark wood and cohiba marble or along seats at the main room’s 30-foot bar. Drinks include The Mint, a mélange of Grey Goose La Poire, star fruit, mint, and lemon, and Liquid Gold, which pairs a pineapple-infused vodka with Grand Marnier, amaretto, lemon, and raspberry, all heated to 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit. After fueling up with comestibles and drinks, diners can explore the patio’s cabana-style seating or take a break with some bubbly at the coed bathroom’s champagne bar.
Feeling perhaps a little adventurous, Deirdre Pain wandered into a Thai restaurant one evening in the early 1980s. She expected to taste a few dishes she had never heard of before, but she didn’t expect to discover a lifelong obsession. Enticed by the flavorful spices and the delicate balance between sweet and salty, Pain soon became so enamored with Thai cuisine that she teamed up with a local chef to open a restaurant of her own, and in August of 1987, Malee’s on Main was born. 25 years later, Malee’s is still thriving thanks to its unique, upscale take on the traditional Thai restaurant, which includes doing some things a bit differently. All of the dishes, for example, are prepared in 10-inch sauté skillets to ensure that several people can order the same dish–-coco chili fish, crispy basil chicken, slow-roasted duck curry––and have it prepared differently. The same thoughtfulness is apparent in the restaurant’s dining areas. Comfy patios allow diners to bask in sunshine or enjoy a cool evening breeze, while cozy fireplaces accommodate those who like to swap ghost stories around a plate of crab rangoon.
Chef and owner Tottie Kaya learned from the best: her mother, who was an acclaimed caterer in Laos. At her namesake restaurant, the culinary Renaissance woman crafts Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese dishes, and finishes meals with handcrafted desserts such as mango with sticky rice.
The menu at Wild Thaiger is so colorful and esoteric it would almost come as no surprise if the thaiger ribs were made from actual tiger. Don't worry, they aren't. The half and full slabs are actually made from tender pork, marinated in a blend of spices. To get a real taste of a jungle beast, order the decha boar, sliced thin and served with green beans, bamboo shoots, and hot red chili sauce. The wild boar is one of many specialties pioneered by chef Olashawn Hasadinratana-Weaver. She and her family rely on seasonal ingredients and traditional marinades to distinguish their fiery Thai cuisine, which ranges from ubiquitous plates of pad Thai to a citrus-tinted seafood panang curry. Though the herb blends are complex, the kitchen keeps no secrets. Diners who sit indoors can watch as chefs toss their meals in the blazing fire wok, searing meats and Asian veggies with touches of lemongrass, basil, and lime, but no MSG. Alternatively, the protected patio provides shelter for outdoor suppers that might otherwise be ruined by errant fly balls. There, hot days herald bowls of homemade coconut and durian ice cream, or a chilled cocktail from the full bar, where imported beers and wines also make a strong showing.