Jantz Cafe & Bakery is truly a family operation. It first opened its doors in 2001 under the direction of brothers Larry, Sheldon, and Andrew. Their mother, Margaret, supplied the majority of the recipes, and even their grandmother chipped in some concoctions. The Jantz brothers originally envisioned their shop as a side operation, but when customers began arriving in throngs, they knew they were onto something much bigger.
Since that modest beginning, Jantz Cafe & Bakery has added two additional locations in Mariposa and Merced. At each, the family relies on the freshest ingredients available while churning out batches of freshly baked bread, homemade pies, and other treats such as O'Henry bars and sweet-potato muffins. The business remains in good hands, too, since the next generation of Jantzes has already begun to learn the ropes and prepare to bake the future's edible smartphones. The Merced location is located in the El Portal plaza making it an ideal place to stop by before or after appointments or whenever a craving for good ole' home cooking arises.
Every day at more than 770 locations, Jamba Juice proves that good nutrition can be both convenient and delicious. Since the beginning, the company has based its philosophy on choosing whole fruits and all-natural ingredients over artificial flavorings and preservatives. The menu is completely free of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats, and it makes additional accommodations for vegan and gluten-free diets.
Although Jamba Juice is serious about using wholesome ingredients, the company is a little more playful when it comes to the palate. Whole fruits and veggies can be blended into an extensive menu of great-tasting smoothies and freshly squeezed juices. But Jamba Juice?s commitment to keeping healthy eating simple informs its solid-food options, too. Customers can kick-start their morning with a steaming bowl of slow-cooked, steel-cut oatmeal, or stay energized throughout the day with six varieties of Energy Bowls: nutrient-rich blends of whole fruit, Greek yogurt or soy milk, and an assortment of dry toppings and fresh fruits.
In addition to nourishing and energizing the human body, Jamba Juice fights childhood obesity by sponsoring Team Up for a Healthy America. The initiative encourages fans to join the Team Up community of celebrities, athletes and other leaders committed to getting kids active?which they can do by visiting the main Jamba Juice website.
Known throughout the Central Valley as The Cupcake Lady, Troyce Fraga has certainly earned the moniker emblazoned on the side of her bright-pink delivery truck. Her first batches of cupcakes came shortly after her first steps as an infant, and the recipes she has perfected since those early days have gone on to win state-fair ribbons and local acclaim. These recipes draw inspiration from cocktails, candies, and even Mexican cuisine, resulting in flavors as diverse as minty mojito and horchata.
These days, throngs of dessert lovers sprint after Troyce’s cheery delivery truck as it drives along a route of Central Valley destinations such as Turlock City Hall, Latif’s Restaurant, and Emanuel Medical Center. When she isn’t packing marshmallows and raspberry preserves into her specialty cupcakes, Troyce dumps the gooey fillings out the window to slow down cars driving too close for comfort. Those lucky enough to be around when her truck stops can sample buttercream frostings and classic cake flavors such as red velvet and triple chocolate. In addition to her fresh-baked cupcakes, Troyce’s truck shuttles cake pops, whoopie pies, and cupcake parfaits to parties and other catered events.
At Yogolicious, guests take dessert cravings into their own hands. They swirl frozen yogurt or Italian-style gelato into cups, selecting exactly the right amount before adorning the twisted peaks with combinations of more than 50 toppings. Fresh fruit, cereals, nuts, and syrups sit atop frozen treats, with dollops of whipped cream to crown the entire dessert.
The cooks at Velvet Grill & Creamery understand the timelessness of classic diner fare and a cold scoop of ice cream. All day long, they make breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes from scratch and churn out fresh batches of more than 20 ice-cream flavors. Breakfast seekers satisfy savory cravings with three-egg omelets stuffed with ingredients such as avocado, crab, linguiça, and feta cheese. Sweet teeth tear into Velvet's original pancakes, made with real oatmeal and buttermilk from a special house recipe. Later-day options include classic comfort fare such as chicken-fried steak and smoked pork chops doused with an apricot glaze. Among the sandwich selection, the house-special mega grilled cheese ($7.39) combines four kinds of melted, gooey cheese between three slices of bread to form a meal hefty enough to knock over Mechagodzilla should he return from his semester abroad in Prague. Diners can also lap up the eatery's rotating selection of homemade ice creams, which were spotlighted in the Lodi News-Sentinel for their incorporation of such unconventional ingredients as wine and butternut squash. Customers can also suggest new flavors and request special batches, which in the past have included licorice, bacon, and the sweet, sweet taste of victory over chinese finger traps.
When the trio of Jenna Harvey, Ryan Woods, and Steffen Haro graduated from UC Davis, they decided to create their own jobs. "It's not in our character to throw up our hands and say, 'Well, we tried,'" Harvey says as she remembers doggedly planning a 400-square-foot shaved-ice shack with Woods and Haro. Their dream quickly evolved into a shop nearly five times as large, complete with an espresso bar, a kettle-corn popper, and a drive-thru window. Named Pura Vida for the Costa Rican phrase that captivated Harvey during a charitable trip in 2007?"Though it translates as 'pure life,' locals said they use it as 'live pure,' and we liked what it stood for"?the affable staff douses fluffy curls of ice with sweet fruits, puckery sours, and an array of sugar-free flavors accented with marshmallow topping or ice cream in the middle. Hot and iced coffees, which Pura Vida hopes to someday source directly from Costa Rica, enliven palates in between bites of kettle corn, which pop from whole-grain kernels. As soft music floats through the red-walled storefront, free WiFi ricochets across the hand-built bamboo counter and onto patio tables perched beneath a shady pitched awning.