Xippo may look like a nondescript neighborhood restaurant, but after midnight the eatery-turned-watering hole transforms a quiet residential corner into the hippest place in the 'hood.
Don't be deceived by the occasional slow crowd (when I stopped in for a before-dinner drink I was met only with a conservative couple sharing a bottle of champagne and two scraggly men who winked at me from the bar). By sunset, both local and visiting partiers want a taste of Xippo's classic cuisine or a sip of a signature chocolate orange martini.
Though the menu has simplified since the restaurant's opening—the pretzel-crusted pork chop has since become simply "pork chop"—the execution is satisfying and the portions are hearty. Start with an order of barbecue wings sided by a Flirtini martini then dig into a heaping bowl of spicy calamari pasta washed down with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Also notable are the chicken sandwich (great for a late-night nosh fest) and the tilapia ceviche.
The venue is ideal for sizable crowds on a warm evening—giant doors open from a trendy, wooden and red-velvet interior onto a sidewalk beer garden spanning the building's exterior. Drink specials run aplenty, from $3 Coronas on Tuesday to Thursday's $5 martinis. Throw back a few, then inquire about the meaning of "Xippo." Our bartender grinned and responded in a clipped accent, "It's a name for the Serbian Mafia."
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Carly Schwartz