Solo Mexican Cantina isn’t owner Lirim Jacobi’s first attempt at opening a restaurant. Actually, he has spent the past 30 years establishing well-received eateries. With this kind of pedigree, it's no surprise that Solo Mexican Cantina hits all the right notes when it comes to trend, yet casual dining—from the dimly lit dining room festooned with geometric décor and pops of bright color to the perfectly concise menu crafted by celebrity chef Carlos Badaraco Herrmann and Executive Chef Greg Backman.
The duo puts a gourmet twist on traditional Mexican cuisine, crowning tacos with shreds of sweet plantains and transforming run-of-the-mill guacamole into spicy avocado aioli. The chefs also whip up a gluten-free menu as well as margaritas by the glass, pitcher, and claw-foot bathtub. These south-of-the-border flavors help enhance the eatery's already-festive atmosphere, as do happy hours and live entertainment.
At The Gypsy's Horse Irish Pub & Restaurant, diners kick back with pints of Guinness and classic pub-fare dishes from across the pond. Servers ferry plates of irish breakfast with black and white pudding and pork sandwiches slathered in Guinness barbecue sauce. While sampling the pub's 18 beers on tap, patrons can hit the spacious outdoor patio or sit beside the brick fireplace, tantalizing the flames with wooden tables and chairs just outside of their longing grasp.
Beyond that sea of seating and kindling, wood barrels are enmeshed into one of the walls, further unifying the pub's beer and timber influences. Dartboards fleck another part of the wall-scape, and candle sconces imbue the interior with the ambience of an old tavern. Canteens and pots and pans fill out the shelves, and framed pictures give the decor an artful touch.
Taylor Made Café's health-conscious epicures assemble a menu of light café fare without the use of high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, fillers, or hormones. A choice of mixed greens or low-calorie wraps awaits lunchers, with concoctions such as The TMC Pick with turkey, veggies, and strawberries, or The Ten Goaler's mix of string beans, mandarin oranges, and crisp sesame-seed sticks. Bags of chips add enough crunch to finally win the attention of your crush, while a choice of a house-made protein bar provides tasty muscle-building bricks. Chewy cookies eliminate the oxymoronic element of a healthy dessert by using applesauce in place of butter.
With Polo West's polo fields and golf course rolled out around them, players put their feet up between games and nosh at Polo West Cantina. The menu changes weekly, but it's always imbued with Latin flavor. Corona-battered fish, deep-fried crab cakes, melted cheese with tortillas and guacamole, and bacon-and-blue-cheese burgers are just a few of the dishes you might find. Sauces abound—look for Argentinean chimichurri sauce for drizzling onto steaks, black-butter sauce for seasoning Mexico City–style mahi mahi, and chipotle sauce for heating up tacos or greasing up golf clubs.
When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.