Having garnered praise from the likes of Gayot, LA Weekly, and foodie blog Eating L.A., Gobi Mongolian BBQ fulfills the hype with menu featuring a customizable, self-serve buffet of veggies from local farmers' markets and lean, all-natural meats. After visitors load bowls with proteins such as certified Angus beef, chicken, pork, turkey, or tofu, they add a selection of vegetation before hitting the sauce station. This is where the fun starts. As L.A. Times writer Jessic Gelt put it in her 2009 review, "saucing is a science" at this Silver Lake hot spot. Whether they strike off on their own or follow one of the restaurant's handy guides, diners can choose combinations from 11 MSG-free sauces ranging from traditional hoisin and green curry to "Facebook-generation" flavors including lemon mint and asian pesto.
With sauces taken care of, noodles top off the feast before cooks step in to stir-fry the igredients and serve the steaming dish with two homemade hot sesame rolls. Other menu offerings include small bites such as crispy pork dumplings, mixed greens salads with creamy sesame dressing, and brownie sundaes with vanilla bean gelato, candied pralines, and whipped cream.
Five-pour flights from an extensive beer list complement bites, with local craft brews including AleSmith's IPA, The Strand's 24th Street Pale Ale, and Iron Fist's Renegade Blonde often gracing the taps. Brews are joined by freshly mixed soju cocktails, as well as traditional highballs, organic wine, sake, and bottled craft soda. In the zen-like dining space, dark wooden tables are surrounded by ledges lined with candles, much like a shrine to birthday cakes.
After earning a master's in sculpture, William Gustwiller immediately put all of those years of education to good use?though not in the way you might expect. He brought his artistic eye and sculptor's hands to the world of exotic chocolates, and he handcrafted enough of the sweets to open up Eclipse Chocolate in 2007.
Now, Gustwiller and his disciples sculpt about a dozen pastries and nearly 100 confections, including "quirky truffles" that were profiled in Food & Wine Magazine. Their artistic media: natural, organic, and sustainable ingredients. With a delicious layer chocolate as its mortar, Eclipse Chocolate has forged a partnership with Guittard Chocolate of San Francisco. The organization works directly with cacao farmers and other agents to source the high-quality, sustainable and fair-trade cacao that Eclipse Chocolate uses exclusively in its products.
Much of that cacao makes its way to Eclipse Chocolate's onsite bistro, where chefs incorporate it into buttermilk pancakes and blend it into what Travel and Leisure called some of "America's Best Hot Chocolate." The bistro, which also won a Silver Fork Award from San Diego Home & Garden magazine in 2013, even finds ways to incorporate chocolate into dinner: just look to the mascarpone meatball, which the chefs serve with a vanilla bean crostini and a cocoa balsamic drizzle.
In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 13 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day lava-powered ovens warm up batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, pecan praline, and white-chocolate raspberry remain constants on the menu, and a new flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all frosted with a signature blend of cream cheese and butter. Each Nothing Bundt Cakes location also houses its own stock of gifts. Patrons may come across the brightly hued handle of a confetti cake knife or opt to take home an old-fashioned tin, perfect for stowing coffee and imprisoning gingerbread men who have tried to run away. Contact the location of your choice for gift pricing and availability.
About the Owners: After 19 years in a delicatessen catering department, Ramana Brodeth knew her way around a sandwich. In 2010, she and her sons, TJ and Mark, opened Lou’s Cafe. One of them is always behind the counter, crafting inventive, satisfying sandwiches and topping them with Lou’s Special Sauce, a housemade garlic-and-herb aioli.
From the Press
Dutch crunch: also called “tiger bread,” this roll features a mottled exterior that hides a soft, chewy center. Bakers use sesame oil to lend it a distinct aroma, and paint the top with rice paste before baking it to create a cracked appearance and salty-sweet flavor.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Take a stroll through Clement Nursery (1921 Clement Street), the oldest in SF, housed in lovingly restored farm buildings.
After: Make a picnic of it and let the kids run around the renovated Argonne Playground (18th Avenue & Geary Boulveard); three picnic tables sit alongside the tennis courts.
In 1975, after lending his expertise to the owners of a sub shop in Sparks, Nevada, public accountant John Larsen realized that his true calling was right beneath his nose?and it smelled delicious. Larsen wanted to make sandwiches, and it wasn?t long before locals eagerly supported his dream.
A community-wide contest helped to name Larsen?s enterprise Port of Subs, a name that now, after nearly four decades, graces approximately 140 locales. Each shop has a crew of sandwich makers that prepares subs to order in front of customers, piling freshly sliced meats between toasted bread with hand-painted grill marks. Cold subs feature filling combinations such as roast beef and provolone or peppered pastrami and swiss, available on wheat, white, or sourdough bread. Oven-baked grillers enclose barbecue pulled pork, new york steak and cheese, and other savory meats.
In addition to feeding the locals, Port of Subs partners with community organizations for fundraisers and other events.
Rivers Edge Cafe aims to put a spin on the traditional, Americana-steeped diner by creating a casual neighborhood eatery that serves slightly more imaginative versions of otherwise familiar comfort foods. Tempting diners with the opportunity to enjoy three meals a day, the chefs begin each morning by cooking a number of breakfast staples. Buttermilk pancakes and country fried steak are classics, but they also cook omelets using three farm-fresh eggs and everything from artichoke hearts and kalamata olives to smoked salmon and capers. They even update the traditional side of hash browns by creating a version stuffed with bacon, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. As the sun begins to set, the cafe serves its selection of hearty, home-style dinner entrees, including housemade meatloaf flavored with garlic, onions, and green bell peppers, and penne pasta tossed with crisp vegetables, shrimp, and a balsamic glaze.
Much like its menu, Rivers Edge Cafe's dining room exudes a decidedly casual vibe that is more reminiscent of a bistro than a diner. Gleaming wooden tables and low-backed booths fill the dark floors, which still manage to catch the light streaming through the walls of floor-to-ceiling windows. Tulip-shaped pendant lamps hang above a few of the tables, but, as night falls, the ceiling fans' lights help keep the space illuminated as they lazily spin above patrons' heads and keep guests cool as they sip on one of the available craft beers or wines imported from the future.