Havana Nights Dining and Jazz's moody allure earned the restaurant the title of "Best Restaurant Reviewed in 2012" by The Virginian-Pilot. With its trio of unique venues, the restaurant invites guests to three very different experiences under the same roof. The Caribbean Room features Caribbean-American fusion dishes from Chef Kent Johnson's kitchen amid a "beautifully moody and dark dining space," as described by HamptonRoads.com. Surrounded by murals of palm trees, diners browse wine and spirits menus on iPads and dig into interpretations of arroz con pollo and gulf bouillabaisse.
In an adjoining space, the Bang and Olufsen Jazz Club vibrates with improvised scales during live performances every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening. Upstairs, in a private lounge, cigar enthusiasts can kick back in large leather chairs while enjoying stogies and writing secret messages to each other in the clouds of aromatic smoke.
The rollicking sounds of blues artists headlining the two stages of the restaurant’s performance venue filter through this barbecue hot spot. It features spice-rubbed meats served up with a selection of homestyle sides. The menu centers on hickory-smoked beef, seasoned and smoked pork, and rubbed and grilled chicken and ribs that are steeped in spices, like Marco Polo’s scrapbook. The restaurant outfits tables with a selection of spicy, savory, and slightly sweet sauces, allowing patrons to customize heat levels on entrees or provide a flavorful accompaniment to fried pickles, baskets of corn bread, or Mojo pit beans.
Growing up, kitchens were the last place Emilio Peiro wanted to be. Over time, however, the youngest of five boys began cherishing his opportunities to cook traditional Spanish cuisine with his mother. Using her recipes, imported ingredients, and some additional skills picked up from his older brother, a fellow chef, Emilio now recreates his family’s meals at Emilio's Restaurante Español.
Said recipes include more than 45 tapas, ranging from flambéed chorizo to vegetarian- and vegan-friendly dishes, such as sherry-infused onion potatoes. For more substantial meals, Emilio and his culinary team toss garden veggies with smoked paprika and stir chunks of mussels, calamari, and shrimp into paella.
Bartenders complement Emilio’s bites with an extensive selection of handpicked Spanish wines, as well as housemade sangrias. After feasting, stick around until 2 a.m. for nightly live music, plus events such as salsa nights, where participants learn to dance while balancing bowls of salsa on their heads.
Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, head chef Claudia Fentress crafts an island-inspired menu, which contains mouthfuls of Caribbean and American cuisine to feed guests consuming earfuls of live jazz. Experience life stranded on a deserted island with a world-class chef by diving into jumbo-sized pan-seared scallops with Caribbean seasoning and a garlic-butter coconut sauce ($13), then feast on a fresh rack of lamb marinated in rosemary, mint, and garlic ($21). Served with a side of Caribbean cognac-mustard sauce, the stuffed grilled chicken breast deftly hides bites of vegetables, crab, and shrimp ($19), and the swashbuckling Caribbean vegetable trio ($15) slices through hunger with cabbage, green beans, muscle-building spinach, and plantain swords.
Led by the graceful, ear-captivating vocals of Lumiri Tubo, "A Tribute to Nat King Cole" pays homage to the music legend with an evening of inspired renditions. Tubo's stunning serenades drape audiences in a melody-woven blanket of nostalgia as she channels Cole's enchanting aura, belting out classics such as "Unforgettable," "Mona Lisa," and "Ramblin' Rose." As the performance delves deeper into Cole's colorful catalog, Tubo combines her own dynamic style, subtle phrasing, and ability to ignore loudly sobbing trombone players to infuse each memorable hit with a dose of modern flair. Although not included with today's deal, a full menu of food and drink offers to fuel spirited toe tapping and armrest drumming throughout the show.