Restaurant Blog -

Opal Restaurant & Bar

1325 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 966.9676

Opal Restaurant and Bar describes its cuisine as “Eclectic California”. How else could one describe such dishes as Tiger Prawn Pizza and Pesto-Sautéed Bay Scallop Salad? Delicious, that’s how. Try an inventive aperitif in the cozy bar area (recommended: the “Thai-chee-ni,” a concoction of chile-infused vodka and lychee juice). Opal is micromanaged by Richard Yates and Tina Takaya, who obviously put a great deal of thought into every facet of the customer experience. Drop in for an innovative lunch salad, or a drink before taking in a performance at the Arlington Theater next door.

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Old Fisherman’s Grotto

Fisherman’s Grotto
39 Fishermans Wharf, Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 375-4604

Last weekend my husband and I took a drive up the coast to Monterey for our 1st Wedding Anniversary. The Old Fisherman’s Grotto was receommended by the hotel, one of the stores on the Warf and several others we spoke with so we decided to eat there. The service was impeccable, the food was good quality, nice romantic atmosphere overlooking the water. The menu is varied, rack of lamb, steak, seafood and I beleive there was even pasta.  I will say the menu is pricey which we didn’t find out until we were already seated but I am glad that didn’t deter us. BUT again, they definitely have customer service mastered, every table was asked if they were celebrating a special occassion and anyone that was were presented with a very nice dessert.  When they brought the bill, the ladies received a pink rose.

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The Persian Garden

THE PERSIAN GARDEN CAFE - Vegetarian and Vegan
1335 W. Thomas Rd.  Phoenix
(602) 263-1915

This sister restaurant to the Green Leaf Café offers some of the same menu items, such as purple shoots and the spinach herb burger, but also an expanded menu that includes fresh juices such as carrot, apple-ginger, mango pomegranate and carrot-cucumber. There are pita sandwiches, kosher dishes, falafel and dolmeh (grape leaves stuffed with tabouli and cugurt), as well as tasty desserts such as vegetarian carrot cake and non-dairy Persian ice cream. Closer to downtown Phoenix, the Persian Garden Café is a great place for a business lunch or an intimate dinner.

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Fuji Mountain

by Genevieve Wheeler

2030 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 751-0939

Japanese and Korean food meet and mingle in the beautiful three-story restaurant known as Fuji Mountain. This tower of taste delights offers a Sushi bar and tatami tables on the first floor, an intimate cocktail area on the second, and a sports bar on the third! Nestled in the heart of Center City on Chestnut Street, the Fuji Mountain food artists believe in staying true to the time-honored delicacy of Asian cuisine. They balance the unique flavors of Japan and Korea to perfection, and guide your taste buds to true harmony! At Fuji Mountain, one can find traditional sushi and sashimi dishes (which can be ordered in convenient combos or a la carte) alongside such Korean fare as Stir-fry Kimchi with Tofu and the most exotic barbeque ribs you’ll ever savor. High on your Fuji Mountain gotta-try list should be the Crazy Roll, a surreal blend of tuna, eel, cucumber, avocado, shrimp tempura, and flying fish roe!

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by Melody Carpenter

19 S. Orange Ave.
(407) 423-2688

Voted best sushi restaurant by the readers and the food critic of the Orlando Sentinel, 2000. Located in the hub of downtown, this small eatery is bustling during lunchtime with many white-collar sushi lovers. The inside atmosphere is enhanced with understated lighting and the stylish decor. You can sample the fare from a stool at the long sushi bar or at a table. The portions are substantial and the prices are reasonable. The sushi choices include cucumber, sea urchin, tuna, asparagus tempura, eel and the California roll. The sushi assortments are artfully presented in boxes with a variety of delicious sauces. The entrees include seafood tempura, sukiyaki and many combination platters. Make sure to get your reservations for dinner on the weekends, because this local hot spot can get jam-packed.

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La Peniche Restaurant

by Jewel Bush

La Peniche Restaurant
1940 Dauphine St., (504) 943-1460

For po-boys and New Orleans-style seafood as well as soups and appetizers, La Peniche is the place. The diner may come off as a dive, but don’t be discouraged, the food is quite yummy. There are daily lunch and dinner specials and the menu is all around tasty. The smoked sausage po-boys are good same as the soft-shell crab po-boys. The white bean and red bean meals are extra meaty, in true Crescent City fashion. The seafood platters boast an overwhelming bounty from the sea – shrimp, oysters and fish. The menu also includes cold cut sandwiches, chicken fingers and steaks.

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Renata’s Cafe Italiano

227 East Chapman, Suite F, Orange, CA 92869
(714) 771-4740

Located at the Chapman entrance of the Old Towne Historic District, Renata’s is the Italian restaurant in the Orange circle. Offering a light northern Italian fare, Renata’s is said to be as warm and quaint as it when Renata herself opened it 14 years ago. Even with new management, the food is superb. If you associate clams with Italian cuisine, Renata’s will exceed your expectations. The white sauce in the linguini vongole integrates the rich natural juices of large and succulent Manila clams, making the dish anything but bland. And for stylish plating and elegant taste the chefs top the entrée with fresh rosemary sprigs. The clam chowder is, in a word, delizioso. Usually with New England clam chowder, the clams are miniscule and the flavor of the shellfish is obscured by heavy cream stock and an overload of potatoes. At Renata’s, the stock is creamy with a nice accent of butter, but the consistency is light and thin. The clams are shucked especially for the soup and their freshness blended with an array of wholesome herbs, allows you to savor the taste of the sea. Renata’s has a decent selection of California and Italian wines and decadent favorites such as the Italian cream gelato and the cannoli Sicilian (okay, the one part of the menu that’s southern Italian). On the patio, clear tenting, burgundy awnings and a four-tiered fountain create a pleasant and intimate vibe.

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Peter Luger Steak House

Peter Luger Steak House 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY (718) 387-7400 ‎ • Cuisine type - Steakhouse Holiday

This offshoot of the history-making Brooklyn steakhouse is a great place for an anniversary or a special date. The polished wooden interior, the smell of seared high-quality beef and the tinkling of glasses signal what will be a great dining experience. I recommend starting at the bar where you can get a great cocktail from bartenders who are extremely professional and knowledgeable. Dinner here is best shared. Get a porterhouse for two, and get a side of fried onions and the excellent thick cut bacon strips. Don’t be surprised when your waiter or waitress makes you feel at home a heck of a lot more than you expect. And don’t forget to try their signature steak sauce!

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City Place
200 East Fourth Street
Long Beach, CA
(562) 432-3220

With a convenient location in the City Place complex in downtown Long Beach this popular Japanese eatery attracts shoppers and businesspeople in droves. Offering an informal atmosphere that’s perfect for a quick lunch or dinner with friends and family, it provides indoor and outdoor seating, plus hefty portions of reasonably priced favorites including yellowtail, salmon, spider rolls and eel. Non-sushi eaters will find plenty to choose from including many vegetarian dishes, seafood salads, noodles, soup, teriyaki and tempura. Wash it all down with Japanese beer, wine or sake.

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Hakase Japanese Cuisine

3900 S. Paradise Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 796.1234

Only about half a mile east of the Strip, Hakase offers a very bare and authentically Japanese ambience decked out with maple wood, pinewoods and Oriental screens. Their fish is always fresh and cut to perfection, and the Miso soup is fiery and delicious. The Teppan grill does require reservations if you want to have a chef cook at your table. For those craving the authentic sushi experience, a Tatami room is available as well.

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