A server tours the room, his skewer held high until he stops at a table to carve slices of picanha nobre—top sirloin grilled with rock salt and olive oil—onto plates. Pampas Grille borrows Brazil's churrasco-style meal, serving meat and seafood just as it comes off the fire. Diners take repeat trips to the side bar to complement their meats with salads and hot and cold sides. The eatery is trimmed in warm wood and features horseshoe-booth seating. Near the bar, wide and tall windows can be flung open to let in fresh air or allow a giant to enter without stooping.
Cuisine Type: American
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 50+
Parking: Parking garage
Most popular offering: Prime Rib
Delivery / Take-out Available: Takeout Only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Pro Tip: Karaoke bar and mechanical bull
microbrews to complement its Italian-American bistro-style menu. Brewmaster Fran Andrewlevich—whose past work has won gold and silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival—whips up lagers, pilsners, and seasonal beers right onsite. In the open kitchen, chefs feed flatbread bruschetta and hand-stretched pizza dough to a hungry brick oven, and craft ranch burgers filled with Angus beef, bacon, monterey jack cheese, and dreams of running away to join the circus concession stand.
"It took them five years before they would let me handle the fish," says sushi chef Jo Clark about his extensive training. He began his culinary journey at 13 years old and spent a decade in an apprenticeship at the Japanese restaurant Yama. There, he honed an ability to prep rice and sauces, wield a knife, and select sushi-grade fish while shadowing chefs from different regions of Japan. In his spare time, Jo enjoys paddle-surfing and once skillfully maneuvered alongside a lively school of sharks.
At the restaurant, however, he deftly manages cuts of salmon, flounder, hamachi yellowtail, and shellfish to craft more than 40 inventive sushi rolls. He toys with the traditions of sushi, wrapping some rolls with thin slices of European cucumber and creating a sashimi pizza on a tortilla crust. The aromas of ginger, eggplant, and garlic wander from pots of Thai-style dishes in the kitchen and out into dining rooms. Though each location has distinct decor, diners mingle among elements such as exposed-brick bars, hardwood floors, and hanging Japanese paper lanterns in the exciting bright colors of a furious traffic cop viewed through a kaleidoscope.
The blue-and-white banquettes, bright-white drapery, and faux shuttered windows fall right in line with Taverna Opa’s Greek theme, but it is the food, cocktails, and entertainment that really bring the eatery to life. At the restaurant, rated good to very good across the board by Zagat, smoky aromas waft from a wood-fire grill and swirl through the air as servers cart around dishes of lamb chops, gyros, and traditional Greek meze that earned accolades from Gayot.
Greek tunes and live DJ beats keep the atmosphere festive, as do dancing staffers who break out into a Zorba dance throughout the night. A belly dancer also weaves between tables, mesmerizing diners with her abdominal precision and occasionally tossing napkins to alert management that someone fell happily asleep in their moussaka.
Sweet Ginger Asian Bistro fuses Thai and Chinese fare inside a modern space bedecked in warm earth tones. Generously sized portions of thai dumplings and classic pad thai share menu space with Hong Kong specialties such as general tso’s chicken and lightly fried soft-shell crab. Chefs artistically arrange each dish with drizzles of colorful sauce, leaving entrees ripe for photographing, then devouring both the photograph and the dish.