After losing a sizeable amount of weight with his kitchen-made juices, Sal had the idea to open a café coupling his love of French culture with his new appreciation for the role of food in health. With the help of his son, he opened Deja Vu, where painted ivy sneaks around the edges of menus on walls the color of rich buttercream. On the menu, Sal’s original French inspiration shines through in crepes, and fruit and veggie smoothies made from organic ingredients stay true to his nutritional vision.
Low in sugar and ideal for cleansing, the drinks can also be amplified with multiple types of protein. Blenders purr, full of smoothies and juices made with kale, green apples, ginger, oranges, and even hints of parsley, all delivered fresh daily. Crepes are also a Deja Vu specialty, whether filled with bananas and chocolate-hazelnut spread, or ham, veggies, or warm chicken and pesto. Conversation about the weather or the weatherman’s constant weeping drift over warm corned-beef sandwiches, and shoots of steam blossom from fresh-brewed organic coffee.
Faded blue starbursts top each table within San Mateo Coffee Company, each explosion of color emanating from the stylized cup of coffee printed at the middle. Here, patrons pull up a chair and sip hand-tempered espresso drinks, nibble on pastries that once resided in neat rows beneath glass countertops, and banish midday munchies with loaded deli sandwiches. The shop also deals in beans by the bag, equipping customers with the raw material to make cappuccinos and coffee in the comfort of their own homes or inflatable bounce houses.
As Charles Kusuma was coming up in the restaurant and hotel industry, his mother—who had long hoped to own her own cafe—kept him grounded with a simple piece of advice: always treat your guest as your friend. When she passed away, Charles decided to pursue her dream in her honor. He rescued a local cafe from closing, and reopened it on his mother's birthday in 2010 as Never Too Latte, complete with a business mantra that would make her proud: "Enter as strangers, leave as friends."
From the red-velvet mochas to the boxes of macarons baked by Charles's wife, Sheila, most things at Never Too Latte have a personal touch. You can even stay well into lunch and dinnertime, as the menu features chicken-apple sausages, kettle chips, and sandwiches.
At most drinking establishments, the interaction with the customer begins and ends at ordering, save for a question about adding a vague amount of milk or sugar. Not at Raging Boba—here, the drink makers ask guests to taste their bubble tea before being served and offer suggestions. This allows the shop to tweak each serving to a visitor's particular taste for sweetness, flavor, and straw thickness. This care extends to Raging Boba's snow ice, a Taiwanese fruit concoction topped with jellies and boba pearls.
Bay Coffee Company treats visitors to sip after luxurious sip of freshly made cappuccinos, iced lattes, and simple cups of joe. A welcome respite from mega-chain java joints and the coffee-like brown liquid found in office break rooms, the small shop sources its beans from local roasters. Guests can begin the day with piping-hot cups of flavored latte, hot chai, and Americano, or end it with an icy coffee smoothie or Italian soda.
Laurel Kabob's menu features daily-prepared fresh fare infused with the sunny flavors of the Mediterranean. Start off with an appetizer of tabouleh ($3.90) or a dolma filled with rice, raisins, and pine nuts ($3.90) before pawing a spinach-and-cheese pita pizza ($6.50) with extra moxie on the side. Invoke Diana the huntress for a feast of succulent, slow-cooked lamb kebabs plated with tomato sauce, yogurt, and Turkish rice or fries ($9.90), or de-meat mealtime with the falafel plate ($8.90) or a veggie wrap with mushrooms, rice, zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper ($6.90). Soak too-solid sustenance in a glass of red or white wine ($4.90) or a German beer, such as Spaten or Franziskaner Hefeweizen ($3.50), to create a vibrant, conversational atmosphere conducive to a holding a lunchtime heart-to-heart with a dear friend or a spirited dinner debate with a budding enemy.