Red C Lounge's no-frills show posters promise two things: chest-pounding beats and plenty of drinks. DJs deliver those beats in a variety of styles, delving into the jazz-influenced rhythms of deep house on Tuesdays or sampling the long-forgotten hooks of obscure soul or jazz on Rare Groove Fridays. The bartenders also offer a variety of drink service, sliding gin cocktails to customers seated on bar stools or providing bottle service for those who stake a claim to a table by draping their pants over a chair.
Zen Cafe’s chefs have honed the art of inventive hand rolls, working in the media of seaweed, sushi rice, and fresh fish. Serious dinner diners can loosen up chopstick implants with manila-fried chicken skewers ($7) or a sashimi trifecta of maguro, hamachi, and nama sake pieces ($16). Wrapped-up eight-piece edibles include the assertive Seal the Deal roll ($11), stocked with crab and avocado before being deep-fried and decorated with shrimp, avocado, and eel sauce, and the classic california roll ($7). Brave eaters can conquer the Godzilla roll ($11), loaded with spicy tuna and tempura-fried, then garnished with a seaweed salad, seared tuna, and sriracha—a traditional sauce made from sun-ripened chilis and one-a-day whale vitamins. Swigs of Midori melon sake ($7) soothe hard-tasting tongues, and creamy swallows of white-chocolate-glazed ricotta cheesecake ($5) prep throats for singing to tunes on the dance floor.
Sooner or later, your girlfriend is going to figure out that all those fancy restaurants are just your bedroom redecorated with a new elaborate disguise each week. Today's Groupon will help you postpone the inevitable by throwing a real fancy restaurant into the mix. For $20, you’ll get $45 worth of sophisticated American fare and drinks at Fifth Avenue’s Urban Bar and Grill. Your taste buds will leap for joy under the spell of live entertainment, an extended happy hour, and pleasing tableware.
Lei Lounge serves up a roster of rich, savory dishes, culling inspiration from both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Roll up with a group of peckish pals and dig into a shareable meal, such as the loaded nachos, adorned with chili-spiced beef or chicken, black olives, black beans, guacamole, jalapeño peppers, and cheese ($12). The Kobe beef hotdog sliders pair tubular meats with a trio of mustard dipping sauces that complement each other better than a bikini with a matching monocle.
Start with a creamy platter of hummus ($4.75), garlic fries ($3.50), or sweet red beets blended with yogurt ($2.95). Main courses at Ali Baba's run the gamut from a full falafel plate ($11.95), served with pita, hummus, and salad shirazi, to seasoned and grilled lamb chops ($14.95). Meat shunners will appreciate the veggie wrap ($7.95), packed heavy with grilled eggplant, zucchini, colorful peppers, tomato, pickle, onion, and hummus. For dessert, sample a frothy piece of tiramisu ($4.95) or Persian ice cream flavored with rosewater, saffron, and pistachio ($4.95).
Maya Angelou knows why the caged bird sings, but at Side Bar the more relevant question is why the caged DJ spins. Suspended above the dance floor in the ultra lounge’s enormous birdcage, DJs flanked by sensual go-go dancers blast an onslaught of dance hits, a spectacle that has earned the club mentions by Us Weekly, 944 Magazine, and NBC San Diego. A series of smaller birdcages also dangle from the lofted ceiling, floating above a sprawl of mismatched leather booths and velvet couches. At the bar, head bartender Isaac Krejci crafts a steady stream of his signature cocktails, while staffers deliver bottle service to patrons in VIP booths. On breaks from the dance floor, night owls can recharge their robotic hip-swiveling leg braces with plates of bar food such as wings, specialty pizzas, and strombolis.