Hot wings, New York-style pizza, and Philly steak sandwiches may be the signature foods of the east coast, but it's hard to imagine any restaurant treating them with more reverence than west-coast franchise Alondra Hot Wings. The eponymous wings are the house specialty, hot and slathered in one of 18 sauces. Ranked on a scale from mild to atomic?which requires a waiver to order?the sauces also include flavors such as lemon pepper, spicy barbecue, maple syrup, and thai chili.
Alondra's other major influence is written all over the menu?and the walls. Mug shots of famous mafiosi hang throughout the dining room, and the owners are so fascinated by the subject that their website even offers tutorials in mob history. Also from that old Italian-American milieu: pizzas built on from-scratch dough, bearing names such as The Godfather?a hearty amalgam of four meats?and the Little Italy, which flecks chicken breast with basil. Draft beer and wine help mouths cool down after biting into a hot wing or almost insulting the ghost of Al Capone.
Served in the kingly confines of its facility near the shore of Lake Alhambra, Almansor Court's feasts treat revelers to a welcome royal regimen of freshly formed eats. Normally known for housing festive private receptions, Almansor Court throws open the doors of its well-appointed banquet hall for its all-encompassing Sunday champagne brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., serving public palates without the pretense of invitations or fancy tongue-size tuxedos.
Bistro 39 delivers artistically garnished plates worthy of being tacked to the wall, if only your body's aesthetic urge to interior decorate outweighed its evolutionary desire to gobble up delicious things. Starters such as escargot Bourgogne ($8), Dungeness crab cakes ($8), and classic lobster bisque ($9) provide an opportunity to inform your first selection from Bistro 39's extensive beer and wine list. Main plates hail from salty seas and diverse terrains with options including sautéed lemon-garlic tiger shrimp on a bed of angel-hair pasta ($17) or seared duck with Grand Marnier reduction ($24). The Statue of Liberty's torch is surprisingly small, but the bistro's crème brûlée ($6) leaves American mouths agape with awe.
At The Grids, the foundation of the whole menu is a crisp, airy waffle. But the mildly sweet staple is rarely ordered by itself, as the chefs use the crispy discs to bookend an array of savory sandwiches and sweet breakfast piles. They create handheld riffs on traditional recipes, such as the chicken and waffles, alongside more decadent creations stuffed with pork belly, shoestring onions, and sweet apple barbecue sauce. Even their sweet breakfast plates have a touch of the fanciful to them. After dusting waffles with a light coating of powdered sugar, they then add sweet and salty notes with a drizzle of maple syrup and bits of bacon. Non-waffle-based dishes include a smoked salmon salad with honey dill mustard dressing. They also whip up fresh juices, which, like the best Sir Mix-a-Lot videos, contain a mix of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Every spice that flavors the dishes at Mahan Indian Restaurant is first hand-ground by the chefs. Eschewing pre-made spices infuses the chicken tikka masala and vegetable samosas with vibrant flavors, and ensures the meals are as authentic as possible. To further up the authenticity, the chefs use a traditional clay oven, found in many Indian households, to cook skewered veggies and marinated lamb and shrimp. As with the spices, the chefs bustle in the kitchen throughout the day to build dishes from scratch. And for folks who'd rather not limit themselves to one entree, Mahan Indian Restaurant lets them off the hook with a buffet filled with their traditional sub-continental eats.
Great salads don't just grow on trees. Well, they sort of do, but they also must be tossed, dressed, and pressed?preferably right after being ordered, so diners can see just how fresh they are. That's how they do it at SaladFarm's six California locations, each of which features a staggering 30 salads to choose from, including Caesar, chopped, and salmon-crowned varieties. But SaladFarm isn't just about leafy greens; a hot grill presses panini sandwiches, quesadillas, and edible formal wear into flat, wrinkle-free shape. There's also a menu dedicated solely to customized baked potatoes.