At Raxx Pool Room, Sports Bar & Grill, rows of pool tables gleam under bright lights, waiting for the clatter of opening breaks and thuds of 8 balls sinking into called pockets. As expert or novice players line up their cues on the pristine felt, ample space around the tables allows for game attempts at tricky shots or rounds of Hokey Pokey to calm nerves. True to the sports bar's name, pool isn't the only activity here?arcade games, beer-pong matches, dart games, and karaoke performances grant their share of entertainment, as well. At the bar, the lights are a bit dimmer, so guests can relax after games by watching sports on the slate of 18 TVs?plus a 100-inch projector?and pairing wraps and burgers from the grill with a selection of specialty cocktails.
Shackletons has been part of the Franklin Square community for some time, but it might feel different to recent visitors thanks to new management who has redone the space and menus. The happy hour crowd is equally as welcome as a family out to dinner, and the menu reflects this open-door policy?there's chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese, but there's also pork tenderloin and baked clams. Many of the entrees have an Italian flavor with eggplant parmigiana and pasta alla vodka, and seafood is plentiful with mussels, crab cakes, and fish and chips. Those seeking entertainment with their meal can stop by for trivia on Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays, or a live DJ on Fridays and Saturdays.
Chef Ricardo Cardona might be from El Salvador, but that doesn’t mean his cooking sticks to tradition. At Mamajuana Café, he draws on more than 25 years of cooking to build his modern cuisine on a foundation of his homeland’s centuries-old cooking traditions. And it seems like his efforts have paid off: his Nuevo Latino dishes, which also prominently feature Dominican flavors, earned the eatery a Critics’ Pick designation from New York magazine. All that attention might be on account of the chef’s inventive flavor combinations, such as sweet plantains stuffed with salted cod, chicken-tempura sushi rolls, and Cornish game hen topped with diced chorizo and lobster. In the dining space, tufted leather banquettes run along the wall just beneath studio lighting and backlit artwork. Bright red and earth-tone curtains give the room a clublike vibe, which set the tone for when diners take to the dance floor between courses.
On Sunday at Cannon's Blackthorn, a fluid collective of flutists, drummers, and fiddlers gather around brick fireplaces and play traditional Irish music through the afternoon. They welcome all musicians into their circle, as well as the occasional Irish dancers, whose footfalls reverberate off the dining room's stone floors and wood walls. Though Sundays provide the liveliest display of Irish pride at Cannon's Blackthorn, the eatery celebrates Irish culture in more subtle ways throughout the week. Dining companions can settle into private enclaves to share a romantic dinner and whisper sweet nutritional facts into one another's ears before noshing on hearty meat stews and pot pies. Additionally, bartenders pour brews until 4 a.m. seven nights a week.
The bartenders at The Drunken Penguin boost spirits with a slew of drink specials and a limited but affordable menu of pub fare. An Internet jukebox pumps tunes throughout the bar's two floors as patrons hit the dance floor, chug digital pellets on a classic Pac-Man arcade machine, and cheer for their favorite zamboni drivers during NHL broadcasts on six TVs. Each night of the week highlights different specials and themes, from beer-pong tournaments on Tuesday to six-hour Texas Hold 'em marathons on Sunday night.
The gastronomic gurus at Manhattan Bar & Lounge populate a menu with upscale American dishes and small plates. Diners can smother stomach fires with a cold antipasto plate, which comes adorned with a trio of italian meats—prosciutto, sopressata, and genoa salami—as well as fresh olives and artichokes ($12). A collection of handheld treats, including an herb-roasted tomato flatbread ($14) and a ham-and-mozzarella panini ($9), keeps rabble-rousing fingers from initiating unsolicited thumb wars, and the baby arugula salad ($9) turns plates into a garden of fresh flavors. On the sweeter side, velvety double-chocolate-mousse cake ($7) and creamy tiramisu ($7) follow up main courses and make uvulas swoon. Throughout meals, diners employ their full set of senses by admiring the dark wooden décor and relishing live music and performances from entertainers such as cover bands, belly dancers, and waiter impersonators.