Drive-in movies. Car hops. Rock 'n' roll. Though human nature compels us to view the past in varying shades of gold, the 1950s almost transcends nostalgia. For those who were there, the smallest of triggers can set off waves of fond memories: a ringing bell leads the mind’s eye back to the polished counter of a soda fountain, and an oldies radio station evokes weekends spent passing quarters through the jukebox slot.
On September 11, 2001, in the midst of tragedy and after 19 years as a flight attendant, Brenda Stranberg decided that she was tired of playing back memories of America’s greatest decade in her head. Looking around her at a cultural landscape that her childhood self would hardly recognize, she teamed up with old friend Naif Makol Jr. and founded Skooter’s, an old-fashioned diner and coffee shop inspired by the simple pleasures of life more than half a century ago. Though somewhat of an anachronism, the diner’s open kitchen has proven wildly popular among the various generations that frequent the sit-down counter to sample thick milk shakes, loaded hot dogs, and burgers topped with fried onions. Between bites, guests can toss coins into the antique jukebox or admonish the diner’s soda jerks for callously dousing their friends with fountain drinks.
Domino’s has been decorating dough canvases with flavorful sauces, an assortment of cheeses, and high-quality toppings that range from classic to unconventional since 1960. Domino’s dough is tossed daily and stretched by human hands, not by clumsy catapults and model airplanes flying in opposite directions. Treat friends to a tasteful feast by checking the online menu and crafting a custom masterpizza with Domino's wide range of ingredients. Famished diners too starved to choose their own toppings can select from Domino’s American Legends, featuring signature flavors from throughout the land. Pizzas such as the Pacific Veggie, Honolulu Hawaiian, or Wisconsin 6 Cheese impart all the delicious diversity of a road trip without the hassle of decoding an atlas. Nonpizza fare includes pastas, sandwiches, and breadsticks.
Bringing back the upscale nightclub atmosphere of yore since 2003, the staff at Shakago Martini & Piano Bar pairs an upscale menu of Italian-inspired pastas, seafood dishes, and steakhouse fare with a rotating schedule of entertainment every Wednesday through Saturday. While the downstairs area accommodates diners with a traditional restaurant setting, a combination of dim candlelight and firefly busboys illuminates the newly renovated and intimate upstairs lounge, where guests rest on comfy couches and chairs. The second floor also frequently hosts parties of 25–50 attendees, which Shakago caters with bites ranging from finger food to dinner buffets. Because enjoying the Pink Floyd's cover of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony can often take you into the wee hours, a late-night menu appeases appetites until 1:30 a.m. Monday–Saturday.
Armed with fresh seafood, authentic recipes, and a sizzling hibachi grill, the chefs at Tokyo Sushi construct fresh sushi rolls and flame-broiled meals of meat and seafood. In the hibachi dining area, chefs artfully spin utensils as they prepare sizzling filet mignon and calamari for visitors seated around the oft-flaming grill, using its intense light to improve their base tans. Diners can also situate themselves in conventional restaurant seating to enjoy uncooked cuisine such as the Kamikaze roll with avocado, spicy tuna, and spicy yellowtail, or a Rock ‘n’ Roll plate that cocoons eel, salmon skin, cucumber, and avocado in rice.
Hot Table fires up grills for all three daily meals with its menu of crisp salads, coffee drinks, and handmade paninis ($5.99 for small, $8.29 for large), which combine artisan breads with fresh ingredients and bake to melty perfection on hot table grills. Treat taste buds to dairy triumvirates with a three-cheese chicken panini, which smothers roasted chicken and salami with provolone, shaved parmesan, and blue cheese. Diners can customize their own paninis or revel in the preconceived meatiness of the swiss-steak mushroom melt. Until 10:30 a.m., Hot Table features breakfast paninis ($3.99)— such as the Vermont, a hodgepodge of sausage, cheddar cheese, and maple syrup—which go smashingly with dark roast coffee ($1.75), chai tea lattes ($2.95), or perfectly timed rimshots. Fans of fork usage can leaf through a Southwest salad ($6.99), loaded with jalapeños, crispy onions, and chipotle dressing.