No matter what type of seafood the chefs at Cajun Islands are cooking up, they end up giving it a distinct Cajun flavor in their cooking pot. That's because the chefs prepare their snow crab, crawfish, clams, and oysters in a flavorful Cajun broth, which complements seasonings that they wet-rub and butter onto each cut. That doesn't mean that all the dishes have the same flavor, however. Chefs alter the spice content to include more herbs and garlic or more of the mouth-tingling spices to create dishes that vary from mild to flaming hot. They can tame the fire of these dishes with their tropical blended drinks, in which they toss fresh fruit such as pineapple, coconut, papaya, and mangos. When paired with a basket of beer-battered fries and clam chowder, the dishes take on a degree of comfort only replicated by lounge chairs equipped with an anti-peer pressure forcefield.
With 40 years of sandwich-making expertise, Togo's gives party planners an extensive catering menu from which to choose their spread. Sandwich trays ($45 regular size, feeds 10), the Endless Combinations platter ($65, feeds up to eight with 16 half sandwiches of four different varieties, plus a regular salad), and a 3- to 8-foot Party Footer (feeds up to 32 people; prices vary depending on sandwich type and size) will supply sustenance for Valentine's Day group gatherers, enthusiastic Presidents' Day celebrators, and supporters of early-February professional American football championships.
At Georgio's Pizza & Subs, the Meat Lovers pizza has to contend with the Athena: a pesto-covered disk decked in roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, eggplant, feta cheese, and pine nuts. The Athena is just one of four vegetarian combinations that share menu space with 10 other specialty pies, such as the barbecue chicken and the classic margherita. Though their topping options span a wide spectrum, all of them lie atop hand-spun, housemade dough.
The word housemade permeates much of the Italian menu, preceding several of its pasta sauces, the meatballs in its submarine sandwiches, and the breadsticks in its appetizer section. Salads, calzones, and calamari constitute savory side plates, and slices of original New York–style cheesecake conclude meals with the rich decadence of some French palace.
At Bleu/XO Restaurant & Sports Lounge, diversity reigns. It's visible not only in the entertainment—which ranges from Sunday-night dance lessons to televised sports games—but also in the cuisine itself. The house special fried rice mixes the classic Chinese dish with egg, shrimp, and Chinese sausage, though that's not the only twist the menu harbors. Savory crepes brim with shrimp, pork and sprouts in the Vietnamese tradition, rather than the traditional French style of filling a crepe with a baguette. The menu even touches on Thai flavors with a tabeletop hot pot in which diners cook their own mussels and shrimp with in a spicy broth.
After 9 p.m., diners are invited to enjoy live music in the restaurant.
The owners of Kang Lac Bakery have served their traditional, colorful Vietnamese cuisine for more than 30 years. Their menu balances traditional baked goods with savory staples, such as bao sandwiches, beef and chicken banh mi, and pan-fried bot chien vegetable cakes. Also popular are their signature mi and hu tiu: egg and rice-noodle soups bobbing with morsels of beef satay, wontons, and shrimp. The exotic meals don't stop with the entrees—the drink menu lets adventurous imbibers quench thirsts with salty lemonade and milk-egg sodas, as well as red-bean jelly boba and almond-pudding tea. For a more conventional way to put out spontaneous shoelace combustions, opt for a strawberry smoothie or iced coffee.
The Taco Surf empire grew from the dream of a father and son who, in 1988, decided to found a restaurant that captured the distinctive flavors as well as the festive spirit of Baja California. Basing the menu on generations-old family recipes, the duo stick to tradition by making everything from crispy tortilla chips to tamales in-house. Charbroiled flank steak, slow-cooked pork, and grilled chicken appear throughout the menu; however, the ocean's influence is unmistakably prominent. The iconic Baja tacos arrive brimming with breaded white fish and drizzled with a signature spicy Baja sauce, which the restaurant generously sells by the bottle and by the thimble.