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.
In 1947, a 22-year-old B.B. King hitchhiked to Memphis to pursue his dream of becoming a professional tunesmith. A year later, his deep voice and expressive guitar playing could be heard beaming from the city's radio stations and blues clubs, jumpstarting a legendary career that would spawn more than 50 albums. When the blues icon decided to open his own club, he came back to the place where his success in music took off, returning his debt to Memphis by founding the first B.B. King's Blues Club on historic Beale Street.
Today, the club has since added locations in Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, and West Palm Beach, filling each city with the sound of live music and the aroma of traditional Southern dishes, ranging from hickory-smoked ribs to gumbo. Each location's house band keeps visitors entertained throughout the night, and occasionally surprises audiences with hand-buzzer handshakes and special guests that have included Eric Clapton and Lenny Kravitz.
"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.
It's easy to both start and end a night at Blue Martini. During the early hours of the evening, guests can catch the last rays of sun on the patio as they dine on light fare such as fruit-and-cheese plates and flatbread pizzas. This lightness is necessary, because once the sun goes down, guests have to be light on their feet as the lounge turns into a full-on dance party. From then until closing time, guests can keep their energy up with glasses of wine or one of the house's 42 signature cocktails. The bartenders shake, stir, and blend together ingredients to make these drinks, which range from skinny-raspberry mojitos that contain less than 250 calories to the lightly flavored key-lime-pie martini or cucumber lemonade.
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.
Though the staff at The Brass Tap take beer very seriously, they've nevertheless turned drinking it into a game. Customers get a single point for each of the pub's 300 craft beers that they try. At certain milestones, they'll receive gift cards or a t-shirt with a new title, all the way from rookie to beer guru?and, if they conquer the challenge three times, they can win the coveted Repeat Offender 900 shirt.
Thankfully, the bar makes it easy to sort through its 300 beers. The menu is divided up into different beer types, which go deeper than the basic delineation of ale vs. lager vs. water that's been dyed amber. Guests can peruse listings of bottled barleywines and porters, or have a resident beer aficionado fill their mug with an imported brew on draft. Beer even permeates the food: the chipotle mustard on the house-baked pretzels is made with pale ale, just as the cheese dip is made with Samuel Adams. All of the burgers, sandwiches, and pretzel pizzas also have recommended drink pairings.
As for entertainment, each Brass Tap books a variety of local bands throughout the week. Trivia and happy hours find regular spots on the schedule, and some locations have outdoor patios and cigars for purchase.