At Central 111, energetic music thrums from the DJs' speakers and rich aromas dance in the air, engaging each human sense with a feast of input. Bright, narrow beams of light lance through the space, bathing the dance floor in bright colors while leaving four-seat tables under the low glimmer of conical ceiling lamps or one's mildly regrettable glow-in-the-dark tattoo. In keeping with tapas tradition, chefs prepare small, shareable portions of Spanish-style cuisine replete with luxury ingredients such as lump crab meat and petite beef filets. Glasses brim with fermented potables chosen from an ample wine list or contain craft cocktails from the regularly shifting menu. The venue hosts themed events regularly, such as ladies nights, various industry nights, and regular events that collect the talents of prominent local DJs.
A rosemary lamb shank with mint gravy steaming on a table amidst tall bookcases, stained glass, and a fireplace?it's a scene that captures the idyllic charm of dinner in an English manor. Combine that with the British phone box outside Penny Lane Pub's entrance and the fact that nobody drives on the right side of the road within the pub, and it's almost as if diners have accidentally crossed the pond and stumbled into the Yorkshire moors. But their feet are indeed firmly planted on Virginian soil; it's the emblems of England that have embarked on transatlantic travel. Ever since 1979, the minds behind Penny Lane Pub have meticulously recreated England's atmosphere and flavors to share everything from their love of fish 'n' chips with housemade beer batter to football played with the feet. And this love spreads from the stately main dining room to the courtyard with its ornate fountain and the upstairs bar with its darts and billiards.
There, between games, patrons enjoy everything from the Will and Kate plate?cornish pasties and sausage rolls?to a pint of their favorite lager. In addition to meals and beers, the non-smoking downstairs and smoke-friendly upstairs also host weekly rounds of karaoke, special early openings during English football season, and other events that transpose the charisma of the United Kingdom.
The chefs at 21st Street Seafood Company cast a wide net over the ocean, cooking up every seafaring treat from fish tacos to steamed crab legs. As guests slurp down oysters and middle neck clams from the raw bar, the chefs craft Chesapeake Bay crab cakes, fried oyster po' boys, and fire-grilled tuna. Their meaty roster of inventive burgers—topped with salt-cured Virginia ham and jumbo lump crab meat—sate the appetites of even the pickiest eaters, and live music on select nights inspires impromptu games of musical chairs.
In 1991, tired of sating their late night delivery cravings with pizza, University of Florida pals Matt Friedman and Adam Scott concocted an alternative snack in their frat house's kitchen. Many hours and tweaked sauce recipes later, the duo dispensed their brand of buffalo wings to the university’s students, selling out their stock in the first two nights. Since relocating from the frat house to its two original Gainesville storefronts, Wing Zone has opened nearly 100 locations nationwide, supplying wing lovers with boneless bites slathered in more than a dozen award-winning flavors, including nuclear habanero, garlic parm, and blue buffalo. Three of the pair’s sauces have garnered awards at the National Buffalo Wing Festival, which recently inducted Adam and Scott into the Buffalo Wing “Hall of Flame,” where they share reigniting duty every time a strong breeze extinguishes its symbolic eternal flame.
At 15th Street Raw Bar & Grill, chefs shuck oysters before placing the succulent half shells atop a bucket of ice. Back in the kitchen, they form and fry crab cakes using lump meat from crustaceans hauled right out of Chesapeake Bay. Raw, fried, broiled, grilled, steamed, or baked, if it comes from the ocean—the scientific word for Zeus’s aquarium—chances are 15th Street's chefs know how to cook it. Servers deliver the seafood dishes out into a casual dining room adorned with college flags or onto the roomy patio shaded beneath a tin-roof awning. 15th Street regularly hosts events, from live bands to friendly filibusters, and also invites guests to prove their angular prowess with a game of pool.