Dinner Theater: 7 Restaurants with Great People-Watching

A great dining experience is the culmination of many key elements. From the quality of the food to the service, the setting, and, finally, one of the most important factors that can make or break a meal: the people. And it’s not just the people you intentionally choose to dine with that will affect your meal, but those others around you whose conversations you will inadvertently hear, whose fashions you will admire, whose names you may even learn. Welcome to the delicious sport of people-watching!

What makes a great people-watching restaurant? For me, it is all about diversity. I want to see people I don’t see in my home or on my phone, in my neighborhood, or at my workplace. I want my imagination teased as I play an unauthorized version of What’s My Line, guessing at their professions, aspirations, and passions. From around the nation, here are seven restaurants with great people-watching.

Betelnut Pejiu Wu, San Francisco, California
The extensive menu of Asian fusion cuisine at Betelnut Pejiu Wu (literally, “beer hall” in Chinese) will satisfy you to no end. But it’s the liveliness of the room itself that will make you feel at ease. At this happening Cow Hollow joint, the best of Asian street eats meets up with large mugs of cold beer that refresh and fortify. Expert tip: Grab a streetside table and observe San Francisco’s passers-by in all their fabulousness.

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Cascina Spinasse, Seattle, Washington
Sometimes great people-watching is the result of a positive shared experience. At Seattle’s Cascina Spinasse, you’ll be joined by foodies in search of culinary greatness (be prepared to hear a lot of “mmm” sounds). Here, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, authentic Italian cuisine comes to life in an atmosphere that is classy yet cozy. Fans rave about both the great presentation of the oft-changing menu and the beauty of the quaint room. Drinks at Spinasse’s adjacent ARTUSI, a modern aperitivo bar, are not to be missed. [Photo Credit: Tom Barwick]

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Girl & The Goat, Chicago, Illinois
Top Chef winner and executive chef Stephanie Izard’s Girl & The Goat is the place to see and be seen in Chicago’s West Loop. Reservations are hard to come by, but patrons insist the culinary creations are well worth the intense OpenTable’ing. Choose from a wide array of seating choices in the warmth of spacious, wood-framed rooms from which you can enjoy contemporary American small plates, local craft beers, and wines from around the world. Look for Izard working her magic in the open kitchen — as well as for Chicago’s trendsetters who flock there to admire it. [Photo credit: Anthony Thalier]

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Le Cirque, Las Vegas, Nevada
If you’re looking for an interesting cross-section of the population, you can do much worse than visiting Las Vegas. And if you’re a high roller (or just want to eat like one), you’ll want to make the scene at Le Cirque. The festive dining room at restaurateur Sirio Maccioni’s AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurant is drenched in color and whimsy. This is opulent French cuisine at its best. It is also one of Las Vegas’s most treasured gastronomic destinations, so make sure you occasionally glance up from the stunning visions on your plate to see who is sharing the room with you.

No Va, Austin, Texas
Rainey Street is a popular historic district in downtown Austin known for its bungalow-style homes and businesses. No Va (Spanish for “It doesn’t go”), located in a renovated two-story house, is home to one of Austin’s most beloved happy hours. Whether you grab a booth or a seat on the upstairs balcony, you’ll have plenty of sights to take in along with your meal. The spaciousness of No Va and the light of the Austin sun will charm you as much as the wonderful people that help keep Austin weird.

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All-Star Week Cocktail + Dining Deals in Cincinnati

All-Star Week begins in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 11 and runs through July 14. The Great American Ballpark, home to the Cincinnati Reds, will play host to the 2015 Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 14, and the city’s restaurants are rolling out the red carpet with delicious offers for fans. Whether you’re a local or taking a road trip to catch the action, here are six All-Star Week cocktail + dining deals in Cincinnati to enjoy before you take yourself out to the year’s best ballgame!

Jag’s Steak & Seafood
Get on deck for the Jag’s “Double Play” special from chef Michelle Brown, “the best of both filet and seafood on one plate.” It features an 8-ounce filet mignon topped with a morel-encrusted diver scallop with a Madeira reduction and is served with wild mushroom risotto and sautéed spinach. It is $44 and is available Saturday through Tuesday.

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KaZe
These specially priced happy hour rolls at Kaze totally rock. Order the California (with crab, cucumber, guacamole, shiso, and tempura for $3.50 or $6.50), OTR (with tuna, avocado, cucumber, spicy scallion, and ponzu for $4 or $7.50), or blackened salmon (with cucumber, avocado, creme, and tobiko for $4 or $7.50) rolls in two portion sizes from 4-7PM daily in the bar as you enjoy one of Cincinnati’s best happy hours!

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The Mercer OTR
Talk about a steal! The Mercer OTR is offering a grand slam of a deal on their menu. The lavish three-course prix-fixe menu includes a starter, entrée, and dessert for just $39. Bonus: it’s available every day of the week!

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dineLA Dishes: Seven Restaurants Share Summer 2015 Favorites

dineL.A. Restaurant Week, running from July 13-26, is the perfect opportunity to get out, explore new nabes, and try some of the best in dining that Los Angeles has to offer – all at a delicious discount. You can save with $15, $20 + $25 lunches and $30, $40 + $50 dinners. After perusing the menus and checking in with a few participating chefs, we asked several restaurants to share their summer 2015 dineLA favorites. Read on and start planning your culinary adventures in the coming weeks.

Blue Plate Oysterette, Santa Monica
B.P. Oysterette is known for offering one of the best happy hours in the city, but, with a plentiful menu of small and large plates (not to mention their amazing raw bar), we suggest sticking around for a full course meal featuring the freshest bounty summer has to offer from the sea. Chef Jorge Rivas points diners to the roasted branzino — as well as the luscious lobster roll.

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“The warm toasty brioche and parsley butter combined with chilled fresh Maine lobster and a hint of mayo create the perfect summertime indulgence,” he states.

Fundamental LA, Westwood
Drawing inspiration from the seasons and including it in every dish that is lovingly crafted at this neighborhood eatery, the Fundamental LA team works hard — and succeeds — in creating an atmosphere where “we’d want to dine with good friends.” The bar seating offers a front-row view of the open kitchen in this airy, light-filled space. Chef Philip Pretty suggests the pork belly and sword squid with shell beans, apple, and caper-raisin purée.

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“I wanted to do my California take on the Spanish preparation of chorizo and squid, hence pairing pork belly with sword squid. I then incorporate seasonal ingredients of shell beans and apples and finish the dish with the tartness of a caper raisin purée,” he says.

Hamasaku, West Los Angeles
Take a break from the grind with a relaxing, Zen-like stop at a Japanese-inspired oasis. If you’re looking for a new go-to date-night sushi spot where the rolls are as impeccable as the service, you’ll want to give this serene and elevated experience a try. General manager Jesse Duron suggests the albacore with crispy onion.

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Made with albacore sashimi, fried onions, wasabi-marinated watercress, and ginger soy dressing, Duron notes, “Our albacore crispy onion dish is a crowd favorite — a perfect balance of sweet, savory, and crunch.”

The Little Door, West Hollywood
Does it get any cozier and romantic than The Little Door? We’re not sure. French Moroccan-inspired fare is served in an intimate setting perfect for special occasions or any night of the week. As comforting as it is fresh and exotic, this WeHo gem offers a satisfying break from more run-of-the-mill dining experiences. Chef T. Nicolas Peter highlights the trio of roasted beets with a fresh goat cheese and lavender tart.

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Delicious T-Shirts: 11 Tasty Tees Perfect for Foodies

A t-shirt isn’t just a piece of clothing – it’s a statement. It tells people a little bit about who you are and what you love (and, in this case, what you love to eat). That’s why choosing which ones to wear isn’t a decision you should take lightly. We’ve decided to make it easier for you to let your flavor flag fly by introducing you to our round up of delicious t-shirts with 11 tasty tees perfect for foodies. Avid diners, your wardrobe’s about to get deliciousized.

Acid Trip
You can wear this one to Coachella or the NYC Wine & Food Festival. The tongue-in-cheek tee was inspired by chef Rick Tramonto of R’evolution in New Orleans, who once quipped, “Every chef needs a good acid trip.” Totally, dude.

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Reunited and It Feels So Good
This tee makes us smile. A mother and child together again, just like they should be. But then we start thinking we want to eat them both, which makes us smile in a more sinister way. Mmmm … doughnuts.

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Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Warning: You may want to eat this shirt. This photorealistic tribute to one of the ultimate comfort foods looks like you could dig into it with a giant fork. Don’t. And please remember, it’s not cute if you drool on your clothing either.

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Wicked Chickens
We’ve always wondered where deviled eggs come from. Now we know, thanks to this clucking awesome t-shirt. Yes, we just went there.

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