For 10 years, Mona Personius worked as a personal chef for Los Angeles's elite, including Annie Potts and Tim Curry, as well as denizens of San Francisco's posh Pacific Heights neighborhood. Wanting both a bigger kitchen for her catering business and a homey space in which to actually witness patrons' enjoyment of her cooking, she opened Mona's Table. A cross between an old-fashioned diner and a chic French bistro, the restaurant serves thick sandwiches, soups, and a different flavor of quiche every morning. Among Mona's signature dishes, the vanilla-brined pork-loin sandwich won a Fearless Fork award from the Alameda Sun in 2007, and locals have gossiped about the corned-beef hash ever since the mayor was seen sharing a cup of coffee with it. Every dish is made from scratch; even the coffee is brewed on a by-order basis. Daily specials are a mystery until guests take a seat in the warm space, but a critic at the East Bay Express shares an insider hint: the "best dishes have a subtle glow … a combination of simple ingredients layered simply together by an innately talented chef."
Boats slowly glide across the blue water of the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, their white sails puffing and billowing in the gentle breeze. Some dock in guest berths reserved for guests of Pasta Pelican. With its windows overlooking the water, this restaurant provides the perfect location for gazing at the passing vessels or shouting at the seagulls for refusing to wax your boat.
Inside, glowing embers flicker from the dining room's stone hearth, lighting the dark wood tables where guests savor classic appetizers or soups, such as the clam chowder. Pastas dressed in rich sauces or tender cuts of veal, chicken, and seafood make up the main course. Each Friday night, live musical performances draw crowds to the dance floor in Pasta Pelican's lounge as bartenders pour glasses from the extensive wine list.
Notes of roasted garlic, pesto, and feta intertwine with fresh pastas, seafood, and veal, launching aromatic dispatches from Zeytini's kitchen. Beneath the steam floating off simmering wine sauces, Mediterranean influences slip onto plates to introduce hummus, meat kebabs, or grilled fezzes. The dining room’s red and gold draperies cinch together against canary-hued walls, and paintings of the Italian countryside preen beneath arched wooden frames. Warm breezes tug at diners lounging beneath periwinkle umbrellas on the outdoor patio, and a clay-tile awning hangs over guests perched at the bar and protects them from Bacchus' efforts to rappel into drinks.
Shawn Shay grew up on the East Coast, feasting upon that region’s sandwiches, which rely heavily on meatballs, steak, and other meats. His future wife, Wendy, was enjoying California-style sandwiches, sprinkled with emerald fistfuls of veggies. In Shay’s Café, the two now combine their culinary passions beneath the eatery’s blue and gold walls, which glow in the natural light from floor-to-ceiling front windows. The light pierces the steam that rises from soups wrought from adventurous ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves, leeks, and fresh asparagus. The menu divides signature sandwiches by coast, with Eastern favorites including philly cheese and Western options laden with pesto, brie, and grilled salmon. Glasses of beer and wine form toasts, plinking occasionally like a xylophone player with only one mallet.
Fruits & Chocolate dips Mother Nature’s sweets—such as fresh and organic strawberries, bananas, apples, and pears—in tastefully arranged layers of gourmet chocolate and nuts. Other bite-size confections include dried mango slices, pineapple rings, pretzel sticks, and gummy bears, which can be drizzled with white chocolate and milk chocolate. Sweet teeth can order snacks in one-dozen or half-dozen packs that will be packaged inside signature lime-green boxes tied with purple ribbon to protect sweets from jealous produce they may encounter on the way home.
For 26 years, Yumygurt Frozen Yogurt has swirled sumptuous peaks of frozen yogurt alongside an array of Lappert's ice cream, sweet smoothies, and other icy treats. Nineteen yogurt flavors fill cups ($3.25—$4.65) with classic tastes, including swiss chocolate and original tart, as singular flavors such as banana cream and peanut butter keep taste buds on their toes. Several sugar-free varieties lighten sucrose loads, forging a health-minded treat similar to the chocolate jacuzzis at the end of every marathon. Once flavors are selected, an array of 18 toppings crown frozen confections with choices such as chopped nuts, chocolate chips, and strawberry sauce. Locally made Lappert's ice cream also caps cones with 16 scoopable flavors as straws sip sweetness from frozen drinks and specialty coffees.