Black bears love strawberries. The bears of Northern California could often be seen wandering through the berry patches surrounding Mt. Shasta, an area favored by travelers since the 19th century because of the charmingly hospitable inns and restaurants found there. Bob and Laurie Manley were inspired to recreate the area’s post–Gold Rush hospitality, and they opened their first restaurant, Black Bear Diner, near those same strawberry patches. Nearly 20 years later, their brand has grown to encompass 50 different locations, each of which retains the founders’ principles of small-town charm and generosity. The menus also preserve the mom-and-pop vibe, with dishes such as secret-recipe sweet-cream pancakes, old-fashioned burgers wrapped in wax paper, and, of course, homemade bear claws. Each location is adorned with a trademark bear sculpture that has been hand-carved by Washington chainsaw artist Ray Schulz, who often grants his works with regional characteristics such as cowboy hats or taxi-hailing skills.
At Roadrunner Saloon, executive chef Matthew Silverman has compiled a menu of range-inspired specialties that combine American cuisine with modern down-home cooking. His kitchen staff perfects half-pound burgers and steaks, fish tacos, and hearty salads. They serve up the sizzling cuisine at their two Las Vegas locations, each with a distinctive collection of vibrant furniture, murals, stone fireplaces, and New and Old West accents. From Bowlingo, their own mini-bowling alley, to rock-and-roll tunes and gaming, bowlers can pull up a barstool, kick back, and enjoy crafted signature cocktails and delectable desserts.
The chefs at Noodle ChaCha Asian Bistro enable guests to sample dishes that span the major Asian cuisines, crafting flavorful bowls of vietnamese pho, cantonese barbecue, and stir-fried rice topped with a choice of meat and veggies. Ramen noodles steep in a spicy korean kimchi broth, and curry sauces liven up rice dishes that were sadly burglarized of their confetti. The shop pairs dishes with fresh-fruit smoothies, tea, and a range of fruity bubble teas speckled with tapioca pearls.
Flavor is the focus at El Torito Cafe, whose exterior––like a burrito––is wrapped around a colorful filling. Inside, burgundy booths and a mural depicting a mariachi band contribute to the vibrant ambiance, which is permeated by the scents of tamales stuffed with spiced, shredded beef. Enchiladas come with one of seven fillings, including carne asada and green-chili pork, and sides of rice and beans. To complement each dish, the staff mixes a selection of chilly margaritas.
With more than 700 locations, Jamba Juice proves to the masses that nutrition can be speedy and delicious. Since the beginning, the company?s product philosophy has revolved around choosing whole fruits and other natural ingredients over artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and preservatives. The menu is completely free of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, and it offers additional accommodations for vegan and gluten-free diets.
This naturalistic approach is fully realized in Jamba Juice's selection of smoothies. Made with 100% fruit juice, sherbet, and frozen yogurt, the frosty delights range from all-fruit smoothies such as peach perfection and strawberry whirl to more indulgent creamy treats, including peanut butter moo'd, an enticing blend of peanut butter, bananas, nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt, and milk chocolate.
For those with heartier appetites, steel-cut oats steep in soymilk before being enhanced with toppings such as apples, cinnamon, and brown-sugar crumble. The lunch hour presents protein-packed mini wraps, toasted bistro sandwiches and California Flatbreads that pack only about 320?420 calories each.
Just weeks before his wedding in 2006, Vaughan Lazar sat down with his college friend Michael Gordon. They weren’t fine-tuning toasts or planning the bachelor party, but rather intently discussing what they could do to make a difference in the lives of others. After a round of brainstorming, they realized that there was a lack of organic restaurants with quick dine-in, pickup, or delivery options, and thus, Pizza Fusion was born. Their menu features pizzas with regular, multigrain, and gluten-free crusts made from scratch and crowned with local produce, free-range chicken, and vegan toppings. Wine, gluten-free beer, and all-natural soft drinks from Honest Tea and Boylan accompany salads tossed with pear and gorgonzola or sandwiches stacked with portobello mushrooms and pesto. In addition to their organic pantry, the restaurant franchise keeps the environment clean, taking measures such as supplying a fleet of hybrid delivery cars for each store, constructing LEED-certified buildings, and purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset 100% of its power consumption. The pizza place is also home to the Organic Kids Club, which teaches children lessons in basic organics and rewards them with Pizza Fusion diplomas and early registration privleges for future semesters.