It didn’t take long for Brian Kozak to discover his passion for food: at the age of three, after he first tried shrimp cocktail and crème brulee, he would spend hours leafing through cookbooks and family recipes in his parents’ kitchen. His fascination with food led him to build an impressive culinary resume: after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Brian spent four years cooking for Bon Appetit, opened his own catering company, and learned how to fold a puff pastry according to army-bed making standards. Today, he demonstrates his culinary prowess as the resident Chef at Sage Restaurant and Lounge. Kozak’s influences span the globe: try the Spanish saffron paella with chorizo and shrimp, or any of six 10-inch pizzas. The dining room also has global flair, from its Tuscan yellow walls to its terra cotta tile floors.
New Wave Restaurant transports diners back to the 1980s with a variety of 20th-century artifacts and an eclectic spread of American cuisine named after 80s icons, movies, and musicians. Upon walking through the Pac-Man-themed entrance, guests are consumed by a vortex of 80s memorabilia, which grants glimpses of authentic posters and framed records lining interior walls as Rubik's cubes and figurines of 80s characters pepper the checkered bar. A menu of finger-friendly eats such as the Ferris Bueller buffalo wings prepare palates for heartier fare, such as the Billy Idol bacon burger and Pee-wee Herman pasta. Additionally, themed events help amplify the multisense smorgasbord, including nights devoted to such 80s nostalgia as Star Wars and the passage of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
At Tava Grill and Lounge, owner and chef Punita Patel infuses her seasonal menu with Indian flavors and fresh, local ingredients. The paneer fajita tacos, for instance, ooze authenticity along with housemade cilantro mint chutney that can double as smelling salts for a food-comatose date. The seafood biryani paella evokes both India and Spain with a blend of shrimp, mussels, squid, and crab in a creamy curry sauce.
A separate menu in the lounge marries the food of India and California, as the atmosphere fuses nightclub and fine-dining establishment. Beside a softly lit bar, benches and ottomans are scattered around low tables, which break up regular tables and booths without the staff having to dig trenches around each.
With a name that salutes the community centers that filled Rio de Janeiro in the 19th century, Boteco beckons all walks of life to eat and drink at its contemporary wooden bartop and sleek, square tables. Historically, these centers incorporated the region's diverse array of northern European, Mediterranean, and Arabian cuisines, and Boteco continues this tradition.
In addition to crisping pizzas made from locally sourced ingredients, the chefs simmer pots of Portuguese stew with cod and potatoes, and arrange sizzling sirloin next to rice, black beans, Brazilian pico de gallo, and caramelized plantains. The chefs also use tiny kitchen tools to construct small bites of tapas and appetizers, all while bartenders whet whistles and other woodwind instruments with 50 domestic and imported craft beers alongside wines and mixed drinks.
The Granada LA is a party school. Part dance studio, part nightclub, it's a place where students can learn the steps of West Coast swing and merengue one night and put them into practice while enjoying bottle service and eats from the on-site restaurant the next. If they do venture out onto the dance floor of the 1930's Spanish Revival-style nightclub, they'll be treated to live music that leans heavily toward salsa. The nightclub, like whatever village The Village People were from, attracts a variety of people: casual dancers looking for zesty nightlife, and also students of the attached dance studio.
8Eightyeight Cigar Merchants serves delectable libations and cultivates cigar-chomping camaraderie within a private facility that fuses elements of a cigar lounge, pool hall, and sports bar. The club's massive walk-in humidor houses brand-name cigars for members to puff away on while monitoring news and sports such as pay-per-view UFC fights on a cluster of flat-screen TVs arranged in front of comfy leather chairs or while shooting pool within the white-brick billiards room. In addition to members-only cigar and alcohol tastings, 8Eightyeight Cigar Merchants hosts a plentitude of private fundraisers, corporate events, and parties for Groucho Marx enthusiasts.