It didn’t take long for Brian Kozak to discover his passion for food: at the age of three, after he first tried shrimp cocktail and crème brulee, he would spend hours leafing through cookbooks and family recipes in his parents’ kitchen. His fascination with food led him to build an impressive culinary resume: after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Brian spent four years cooking for Bon Appetit, opened his own catering company, and learned how to fold a puff pastry according to army-bed making standards. Today, he demonstrates his culinary prowess as the resident Chef at Sage Restaurant and Lounge. Kozak’s influences span the globe: try the Spanish saffron paella with chorizo and shrimp, or any of six 10-inch pizzas. The dining room also has global flair, from its Tuscan yellow walls to its terra cotta tile floors.
Shesha Marvin was nervous as he gazed out on the dance floor, certain that his pounding heart could even be heard over the booming music. He had always been uneasy on his feet, choosing to lurk by the punch bowl at parties rather than asking girls for a dance—but now, at last, was a chance to overcome his fear. He took a deep breath and stepped out onto the floor, where he was immediately swept away in a rush of lively beats and glimmering lights.
After than fateful night, Shesha was hooked. He began dancing six nights a week at local clubs and, eventually, in Disneyland shows, favoring the lindy-hop and swing styles. He traveled the world to compete in international championships, even performing live on Dancing with the Stars. Today, Shesha brings his years of passion and expertise to his own dance studio, Atomic Ballroom.
Atop the hardwood floors of his spacious studio, Shesha and his instructors lead students of all experience levels through the steps, twirls, and transitions of the East Coast swing, the American fox trot, and the Argentine tango. The instructors can even help couples choreograph a dance for their wedding while providing expert advice on how to sashay gracefully in heels or how to twirl the bride without destroying the reception hall with F5-level winds. Every night of the week, they host a group dance party—from Sunday night tango to Saturday night Ballroom, as well as host dance-infused workouts of Jazzercise and belly dance throughout the week.
Housed in a former lemon warehouse, Casablanca Bar & Grill fills spacious eating areas with the aromas of piquant Mediterranean cuisine. Chefs skewer beef, chicken, shrimp, and lamb kebabs and sauté seafood such as scallops and frog legs. Tender falafel balls can be dunked into tahini sauce or rolled across white tablecloths into the mouth of a dinner companion.
Live entertainment at Casablanca Bar & Grill engages eyes as well as mouths. On Friday nights, belly dancers swivel their hips as they weave through wisps of smoke from flavored hookahs. Paintings in ornate gilt frames keep watch over the festivities, and an outside wooden deck lets diners watch the sky for menu recommendations spelled out in clouds.
Silk Lounge mixes nature and culture with its sleek yet cozy ambience, spacious patio, carefully crafted libations, and nightly entertainment. Guests seeking solace may retreat to a private booth to puff on a fine cigar ($8+), and revelers seeking a pleasant campfire vibe without rubbing two guitars together until they burst into flames can enjoy company at the patio's fire pit. Meanwhile, more than 20 varieties of single-malt scotch rest on hand to warm bellies, including an Auchentoshan old enough to drink itself (premium drinks are $12). A range of unique Chinese and Japanese wines can greet the tongue ($9 per glass), and a cool beer ($5) crisply complements an appetizer of chicken wings or calamari ($12+).
Providing an urbane setting for late-night tête-à-tetes and fine martini concoctions, Esquire Bar & Lounge sets imbibers within a warmly hued lounge, offset by elegant chandeliers and ensconced lighting. Make a toast with draft selections such as Stella Artois and Newcastle ($6 each). Fine spirits for neat-leaning tipplers include Patrón Añejo ($11) and MacCallan 18 ($18), with mixed drinks such as long island iced teas also available to sip or use to transport fish in ($11). DJs spin on the weekends, soundtracking warm conversations and dance moves.
The Granada LA is a party school. Part dance studio, part nightclub, it's a place where students can learn the steps of West Coast swing and merengue one night and put them into practice while enjoying bottle service and eats from the on-site restaurant the next. If they do venture out onto the dance floor of the 1930's Spanish Revival-style nightclub, they'll be treated to live music that leans heavily toward salsa. The nightclub, like whatever village The Village People were from, attracts a variety of people: casual dancers looking for zesty nightlife, and also students of the attached dance studio.