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.
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 Asian Cuisine 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.
At Nadim?s Downtown Mediterranean Grill couples and groups of friends crowd the softly-lit dining room, conversing over traditional Mediterranean appetizers or sharing hookahs on the outdoor patio. The lively scene reflects restaurateur Nadim Kashouh?s passion for celebrating Mediterranean culture and cuisine. Though Nadim spotlights Lebanese standbys such as charbroiled kebabs and heaping bowls of hummus, he also incorporates Western flourishes such as demi-glaze sauces, mashed potatoes, and deep-fried footballs. A selection of Lebanese wines and beers whets palates.
Umi Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar's chefs sling hot meat and veggies across tableside hibachis in showy displays of culinary prowess. As chopsticks busy themselves with vegetables and fried rice, meat such as lobster and filet mignon sizzles on grills just barely out of reach. Chefs also arrange sushi rolls on beds of seaweed in ribbons of eel, red snapper, tuna, and other raw or tempura-battered seafood. Blond wood inlays and sleek glass panels encircle the dining room, whose walls are sprinkled with shadowboxes of traditional Japanese art.