Gold-leaf writing inscribed across the towering red portico at the entrance to The Shannon Rose Irish Pub announces what one might expect to find inside: “Premium Stouts,” “Irish Whiskies,” and other culinary staples of the Emerald Isles. Behind this imposing entryway lies a series of dining rooms that have a markedly different effect; chandeliers create a sense of intimacy as they illuminate Gaelic artwork and aged hardcovers resting on lofty bookshelves.
If cooking were a language, the chefs at Makoto Japanese Restaurant would be multilingual. They follow Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, and Thai cooking traditions to craft dishes ranging from Thai-style duck with curry sauce to broiled eel with seaweed salad and Japanese pickles. At any given time, they might be slicing fresh sashimi in the kitchen or dazzling hungry guests at tableside hibachi grills. They approach grilling as a performance, thrilling audiences by flipping juicy steaks, sizzling tender scallops, and chopping vegetables fast enough to ignite the flames that light the grill. Wooden walls border the hibachi tables, creating an air of exclusivity as diners delight in the semi-private show.
Cooks at Towne Mart and Deli pile Boar’s Head deli meat on seven-inch subs and scoop sides of pasta salad. In addition to preparing chipotle chicken sandwiches, the staff slices deli meat by the pound for at-home meals and stocks the shelves with dry goods.
Green Chilli's amiable staff maintains a friendly vibe as they circulate the room with steaming hot Indian specialties. Naan and roti flatbreads scoop up mouthfuls of rice from artistically arranged biryani plates and the rich sauces of goat and seafood curries. In addition to sweet desserts and the blueprints of the Taj Mahal, Green Chilli's menu includes more than a dozen vegetarian dishes, which eschew meat in favor of flavorful ingredients such as lentils and cottage cheese.
A union of Middle Eastern and Western cultures, Fire N Ice Hookah Bar combines the laid-back charm of a hookah lounge with the music and swank of a nightclub. Customers roam through the electric bi-level space flooded by soft colorful lighting before picking their poison—hookah, drinks, food, or all three.
In the hookah lounge, they curl up on plush sofas cushioned by satiny pillows and reach out every so often to grasp the hookah pipe as it’s passed around, inhaling any one of 25 exotic hookah flavors. The smoke spirals up toward Middle Eastern tapestries hanging overhead or snakes around the top-shelf cocktails perched beside the pipe. It even intermingles briefly with the aromas wafting from Middle Eastern dishes—such as chicken tikka, korma sliders, and kebabs—before vanishing into the air as quickly as a magician at a science fair.
As the night lingers on, Fire N Ice begins its transformation into a full-blown nightclub. Belly dancers take to the stage first, twisting and shimmying across the spacious dance floor. By 11 p.m., the club's three DJs begin spinning top R & B and hip-hop hits intermixed with a few Arabian jams, signaling to guests that it's their turn to hit the floor.
Alvin C. Copeland Sr.'s first chicken venture was a flop. His Chicken on the Run restaurant dished up traditional fried chicken, but his customers in the suburbs of New Orleans turned up their noses. So he decided to start over completely. This time, he named the restaurant "Popeyes" after Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, played by Gene Hackman in the movie The French Connection. But it wasn't the name that brought customers flocking in: it was the new chicken recipe, now spicy with New Orleans flair. This flavor has fueled astronomical growth ever since—in 2011, Popeyes opened its 2,000th restaurant worldwide.
Now, Popeyes is an international destination for crunchy Cajun-style fried chicken and melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits. Both the spicy and mild chicken gets marinated for 12 hours or more, then it's hand-battered, hand-breaded, and fried to a delectable crisp, like space aliens that fly too close to the sun. The french baguettes of po' boy sandwiches come stuffed with chicken or crispy shrimp, and to finish off meals, diners have their pick of homestyle sides such as coleslaw, green beans, and mashed potatoes.