Helmed by Alabama native Big Dan, Big Mama’s Soul Food smokes up barbecue and fries classic southern cuisine to fill a robust, soulful menu. Dan’s deep-fried catfish sandwich ($8.95) destroys hunger pangs with kicks of golden crunch, and entrees get backup support from a chorus of classic sides such as collard greens, corn on the cob, candied yams, and black-eyed peas ($3.95/8 oz.; $10.95/32 oz.). Dinner plates span the southern spectrum with the saucy barbecue of a half-rack of pork spareribs ($17.95) and fried chicken breast battered and crisped bone-in ($12.95)—all plates come with cornbread and a choice of two sides. Big Mama's Soul Food keeps sugar-spirits up with sweet postprandial treats including peach and sweet-potato cobbler ($6 each).
Sunshine Café’s expert chefs craft hearty helpings of breakfast and lunchtime delicacies, enticing eaters with a prodigious menu of American fare. Morning munchers can celebrate the sun's helium-powered ascent with breakfast items such as the innovative Trailblazer omelet ($9.50), featuring a smattering of chopped bacon, sausage, and potatoes sleeping warmly in an eggy embrace. Banana-nut pancakes ($7.75) help sweet teeth rise and shine with a combination of fresh bananas and pecans, and in the afternoon, appetites abate under the powers of a spectacular array of salads and sandwiches. The Sunshine salad ($10.95) rains flavor down on taste buds, tossing bacon, avocado, raisins, and nacho chips together with lettuce. Classic sandwiches such as the BLT ($8.95) and tuna melt ($9.25) rub elbows with creations such as the roast beef and Ortega chili sandwich ($9.50), providing the filling fuel diners need to avoid post-lunch hunger pangs and afternoon quarrels with vending machines.
In keeping with the 300-year-old Brazilian tradition of slowly roasting skewered meats over an open flame, Picanha Churrascaria overwhelms diners' appetites with never-ending servings of 15 different proteins. Throughout each meal, servers approach tables with long, sword-like skewers of top sirloin, garlic chicken, and leg of lamb, then slice freshly grilled portions directly onto plates until guests signal them to stop. Between platefuls, diners can visit the restaurant's buffet, which features more than 40 salad fixings, a spread of traditional Brazilian side dishes, and cutthroat guards that see to it that no one scoops with their hands.
The al dente experts at Johnny Pasta's serve up hearty helpings of made-to-order pastas smothered in homemade sauce. Drizzled in a rich butter-and-white-wine sauce, a made-to-order mound of linguine and clams ($12.95) quiets vociferous bellies with garlicky bites of tender baby clams, and vegetarians cure their kind-hearted carb cravings with forkfuls of zucchini, broccoli, portobello mushrooms, and italian squash that has lived out a long, meaningful life. Create your own culinary jumble ($9.95+) from a list of five pasta shapes, such as rigatoni or penne; five homemade sauces, such as pesto or pink sauce; and five add-ons, such as meatballs or shrimp. Or hew saucy slices from a slab of Johnny's Lasagna ($10.95), a freshly baked assemblage of ground beef, pork, and italian sausage bonded by gooey layers of ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Johnny Pasta's augments its main mealtime menu with a variety of hot sandwiches ($8.50+), as well as red and white wines by the glass ($4+) or bottle ($16+).
The culinary craftspeople at Cello's American Bistro effortlessly assemble a menu full of chic, fresh fare served in a relaxing atmosphere. Starters such as the shrimp scampitini ($14) loosen mouth muscles to prevent chewing sprains and improve the accuracy of howler monkey impressions. Main events such as bone-in pork chops with seasonal vegetables ($25) and mussels flanked by tomato and chorizo ($26) fuel folks with layered flavors and oomphs of freshness. The spinach-and-ricotta-stuffed eggplant cannelloni ($18) heartily sustains plant eaters, and Cello’s welcoming staff can help guests navigate the menu or select an heirloom-tomato variety to name a new baby after.
Chilean sea bass. Pacific oysters. Lobster. These aren't the contents of an aquarium tank, but rather a sampling of the fresh seafood found on the menu at Oceans. Here, guests sip on premium spirits and selections from an expertly curated wine list, all while diving into dishes ranging from scallops to grilled rib-eye, which is not a fish. Al fresco dining is illuminated by the lights delicately twinkling on the intimate patio, while inside, aquatic-themed decor adds a hint of whimsy to evenings out.
Mark and Rhonda Nicolino, owners of Nicolino's Italian Restaurant, have a passion for tradition. Five of their waiters have been setting tables and taking orders here for more than 15 years. Visitors might even meet more than one of them during the course of a meal—Nicolino's servers work without assigned sections, instead spreading their attention to guests throughout the dining area, where old paintings and family photos fill the walls.
Mark and Rhonda also want guests to taste their family history: nearly all of their time-tested recipes were handed down by Mark's father—affectionately known as "Papa"—who launched the family legacy in 1969 with a small Palm Springs delicatessen. The menu includes hand-tossed thin-crust pizzas and freshly made pasta drizzled with marinara sauce or tossed with chicken, veal, shellfish, and vegetables. The menu also features local California and imported wines, allowing guests to clink glasses over home runs and successful flaming-hoop jumps broadcast on three big-screen TVs.