From its origins in the 1860s as a house of ill repute to its time as a legally dubious watering hole during prohibition, The River City Saloon has deep roots in the seedy history of American nightlife. Today however, the saloon blends an old-timey aesthetic with more family-friendly fare. Kids can saunter up to the bar—a vintage 1905 triple-arch Brunswick—and order a glass of old west sarsaparilla, brewed locally at River City Brewing Company. Peanuts are also available, and visitors are welcome to throw the shells on the floor, in homage to the days when saloons had dirt floors and rampant elephant infestations.
The saloon's pub food is cooked with a hot-air fryer, a grease-free alternative to a deep fryer, and its hoagie sandwiches are served alongside chips and pickle spears. On the weekends, karaoke and music videos make old-west cowboys thankful that Bieber fever has a much lower casualty rate than yellow fever once did.
Every evening at El Corazón is a different experience. Although the downtown venue is best known for its rock ‘n’ roll attitude, its calendar presents a genre-defying variety including comedy shows and punk, electroclash, postrock, and postman rock concerts. The majority of their shows are all ages, with a special bar area for the 21-and-up crowds.
At On The Rocks, barkeeps serve frosty beers and potent cocktails to old regulars and those just stopping by. Homey, knotted-pine walls surround patrons as they watch football games with friends or join in spontaneous high-production-value dance routines during karaoke.
At Tokyo Shabu Sushi Restaurant, sushi masters slice up delicate sashimi and handrolled maki while chefs put flame to chicken katsu, teriyaki steak, and umami udon noodle soups. But the crew also takes their flavors a step beyond the offerings of many other Japanese restaurants. The menu has a knack of blending Japanese and western influences, as seen in teriyaki-style New York strip steak and a creamy cheesecake dessert made with earthy green tea. Potent sake cocktails and frosty Japanese beers go with just about any dish and help visitors work up the courage to perform their spoken-word versions of "Purple Rain" during weekend karaoke.