At Sakura Sushi House, fresh morsels of fish, eel, and octopi nestle into handcrafted rolls, a hibachi grill sears steak, and teriyaki sauce infuses chicken and tofu with savory flavor. Patrons perch at the granite-topped sushi bar and browse a menu brimming with four pages of specialty sushi rolls, or lounge in maroon booths, filling squirt guns from bowls of udon noodles. In the kitchen, chefs season meats ranging from filet mignon to lobster and augment shrimp tempura with teriyaki. After chopsticks ferry the final pieces of maki to tongues, punch their timecards, and head home, diners sip hot or cold sake to finish the evening with a final gustatory flourish.
Margaret and Phillip Nabors were ahead of the curve in championing natural and organic foods when they opened Mustard Seed Market & Café in 1981. To ensure the integrity of every item stocked on their shelves, the Nabors developed a list of golden standards—nine guidelines that range from a ban on high-fructose corn syrup to selling only cruelty-free cosmetics. This combination of rigor and passion has propelled Mustard Seed for more than 30 years, filling two locations with locally grown produce, fresh-baked vegan cookies, and naturally lean-but-tender beef from certified Piedmontese cattle, which are raised on an all-vegetarian diet free of steroids and antibiotics.
Today, the Nabors' children, Abraham and Gabe, have joined their parents in leading Mustard Seed's team of natural-foods experts—who include everyone from the customer-service associates to the stockers, ensuring that shoppers can find answers to their questions around every corner. The store also educates customers through classes and free lectures on topics such as California wines and what’s going to happen when they run out of letters to name the vitamins.
Owner and chef Matt founded the The Souper Market to brew up original soup and salad concoctions from preservative- and additive-free ingredients. Chicken andoullie sausage mingles with shrimp and its poultry namesake within hearty scoops of jambalaya ($3.75–$7, or $13.75 for 32 oz.), and the roasted ratatouille’s vegetable medley sets tongues to merrily dancing ($3.25–$5.50, or $10.50 for 32 oz.). Guests can gussy up the blue greens salad ($5.25) with a less tasty Bedazzling gun or a more delicious blue cheese dressing made by hand in-house, which, along with other dressings and vinaigrettes, is available for purchase by the pint ($5).
The hybrid vegan café and gift shop deals in good vibes, whether they take the form of sandwiches and soups made from scratch, eco-fashions, or candles that both soothe the senses and keep away ghosts that are wearing flammable bed sheets. After tasting the zing of a spicy plum vinaigrette or biting into organic sprouted-grains bread at the Compassionate Café, guests can browse a selection of eclectic wares. Vegan jewelry sparkles with gemstones alongside Dead Sea mineral soaps and colorful socks made from recycled cotton, which are ideal for keeping a giant caterpillar warm.
The Boardman location also delves into the world of knitting with a lounge where needle artists can pick up skeins of silk or bamboo yarn, sink into armchairs, and clack away until they have a spider web to sleep in that night.
Shticks’ menu features a cast of fresh vegetables starring in healthy productions of hand-held edibles and homemade soups. Soft Lawash bread swaddles baba and tabbouleh as they nap on a bed of roasted red-pepper hummus and sprouts in the Red Sea wrap ($5), and far-out falafel ($5) entrances taste buds with a chickpea army and a giant black-light poster of a pita. Alternatively, meaty options such as Ruthies' roast-beef melt ($5.75) and Marvs' turkey-pastrami melt ($5.75), slathered with stadium mustard and mozzarella cheese, allow customers to indulge carnivorous impulses. For the summer months only, Shticks will be serving up cups of Spanish gazpacho ($3.25/cup) as a cool treat during warm afternoons and raging city fires.
The environmentally conscious chefs at Tree Hugger's Cafe unite locally sourced organic ingredients into healthy, flavorful fare that respects Mother Nature. Every dish on the eco-friendly menu comes free of hormones, pesticides, and plastic fruit, and many are also vegetarian, vegan, raw, or gluten-free. They also serve dishes made with organic beef, chicken, and seafood. Paninis cram fillings such as grilled eggplant and homemade pesto between slices of fresh artisan bread, and burgers mash up such ingredients as organic chicken and feta or sweet potato and quinoa. Breakfast dishes include house-made granola, muffins, and mixed-berry couscous. Tree Hugger's Cafe tries to reduce its carbon footprint by using compostable containers, blowing kisses to clouds, and outfitting the caf?'s interior in recycled decor.