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.
Mocha Magic has served up locally roasted coffee and homemade café fare in a sun-bathed modern space since 1994. Behind the café counter, sandwich makers layer sourdough and croissant with honey baked ham, smoked turkey, and fresh produce accompaniments. At breakfast, patrons can jumpstart the day with freshly baked scones and muffins, but are discouraged from jumpstarting a car by pouring espresso drinks directly into the gas tank.
The fruit maestros at Juice It Up! concoct a colorful menu of nutritious, blended-to-order smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, and more. Slow-motion mornings can get a kick-start with one of 18 original smoothies, such as the lava flow, a fusion of exotic juices, nonfat yogurt, banana, strawberries, pineapple, and coconut ($5.45). Protect innards against aging with the antioxidant-rich fists of an açaí bowl ($5.50), or eschew saccharine sustenance with something from the Delightful Blends list, featuring sips made with no-sugar-added yogurt ($5.45) and naturally carb-free delight. Mopey mouths perk up with a swig of applemint juice ($4.95) or shot of wheatgrass ($2.95 for 2-oz.), and heretofore-neglected teeth can dig into hearty pretzels ($2.50).
Family owned and operated, Oodles Frozen Yogurt offers a variety of yogurts ($0.39/oz.) made with fresh, high-quality ingredients and packed with a plethora of nutritional niceties. In addition to perennial palate-pleasers such as chocolate, vanilla, and original tart, internationally inspired flavorites include fancy french vanilla or Irish mint; Ty Cobb impersonators can slide tongue-first into the sweetly southern Georgia peach. Eight flavor options are available each week to satiate ever-evolving taste buds, in addition to no-sugar-added and nondairy sorbet alternatives. Top your twist with choices from more than 40 different toppings, or sidle up to the hot chocolate bar during Earth’s cooler months and order an espresso shot ($2) or a whipped-cream-covered cocoa beverage ($3 for small, $3.50 for tall).
Ever since Baskin-Robbins began its dessert fashion show in 1953, more than 1,000 original flavors have sauntered across the nation's tongue runways, 31 at a time. With the ice creamery's iconic pink sampling spoons as your guide, taste-test as many as you like until you find the flavor that gives your soul a back rub, whether it's a classic flavor such as rocky road single scoop ($2.39) or a seasonal serving of Love Potion #31—white chocolate and raspberry ice cream loaded with raspberry-filled chocolate hearts—and America's Birthday Cake. Otherwise, keep it simple and bury your face within the flavor of the month—a chocolate and Swiss chocolate blend, brimming with pieces of chocolate ganache cake and chocolate chunks. The ice alchemists at Baskin-Robbins can also transmute their ice cream and sherbet into drinkable desserts such as floats, freezes, and shakes ($3.99–$5.99).