When it comes to waffles, the enthusiasts at Waffleholic think way beyond the cylindrical box of the blazing-hot iron. Once the fluffy spheres are removed, they don't just get the butter-and-syrup treatment. Instead, they are folded to provide a pocket for fillings. Divided into sweet and savory, those fillings range from bacon and eggs to fresh fruit and drizzles of chocolate sauce. Daily offerings of soups are also available?and topped with mini, savory waffles?in varieties such as split pea and Hungarian beef stew.
With a name that's a riff on the French phrase for golden bread, Pandor Bakery and Cafe specializes in regional French pastries OC Weekly once said inspire "where-have-you-been-all-my-life epiphanies". Pandor is far from just a pastry shop, though, as it boasts an extensive menu that includes everything from breakfast plates to paninis. By morning, guests can be found digging into Nutella french toast or croque madames?and head in early for its Dornut pastry, which OC Weekly calls "obscenely good." At lunch, the kitchen sizzles with the sound of pressed sandwiches layered with pesto chicken or grilled zucchini. Though Pandor's flagship location can be found in the south of France, the California locations incorporate local goods such as coffee from Costa Mesa's Portola Coffee Lab and forks grown within Orange County.
Though coffee is good for jumpstarting a morning, it pales in comparison to the ritual surrounding afternoon tea. The Tea Room carries on this cherished English tradition, offering four levels of tea service, a selection of fair-trade organic teas, and a slew of finger foods for guests to enjoy. The simplest option is the Queen's Tea, during which you can nibble on treats while sipping selections from the house?s 50 signature blends. For a more decadent experience, the top-tier Royal Tea includes finger sandwiches, plates of salad, rows of glistening pastries, fruit, chocolate, and champagne. Outside the tearoom, guests can browse British paraphernalia at the gift shop or take home their favorite variety of tea without having to reverse-engineer flavors from stains left on lapels.
A lifelong surfer from Southern California, Ryan Black—joined by his brother, Jeremy, and his friend Ed—ventured to Brazil in 1999 in search of perfect waves. During their explorations of the vibrant country, however, the ocean fell second to a new obsession: deliciously good-for-you açaí berries. They immediately knew that it was their calling to introduce the organic superfood to their native California culture.
With a clearly defined philosophy of caring for people inside and out, they launched a line of açaí products and eventually opened their first Sambazon café—there are now two locales—earning props in fitness and health magazines including Men's Fitness and InStyle. At both cafés, staff members serve 16-ounce smoothies blended with the star berries in addition to supergreens, fresh fruit, and chocolate. The signature açaí bowl features a blend of frozen açaí purée with banana and a sprinkling of granola.
Both of the restaurants were designed and decorated by eVocal, a group of local artists who specialize in eco design. They kept things environmentally friendly by using reclaimed materials for furniture and fixtures, recycled planks of century-old acacia wood for counters, and energy-saving bulbs to slowly toast oats toppings.
Sertinos Café makes visitors feel right at home with its welcoming wood interior and made-to-order cuisine. The staffers layer each sandwich with whole-roasted meats and premium cheese, which they stuff into panini bread and baguettes toasted to a golden brown. They also provide the same care and attention to detail to their house beverages, hand-roasting more than 20 organic coffees in small batches and brewing imported loose-leaf teas that are available by the cup or pot. Guests can devour their treats in the café’s fireside seating area, which is furnished with oversized armchairs and pillows embroidered with the soup du jour.
Though the bakers at The Funnel House experiment with state-fair-style recipes, they don't limit themselves to dishes from, well, the states. Instead, they specialize in funnel cakes, as well as the dessert's Latin American equivalent: handmade churros. They serve both dishes in their classic, sugar-dusted form or topped with scoops of ice cream, whipped cream, or fruit. It isn't just the desserts that are state-fair classics, however. Staffers also fill glasses with cold lemonade and creamy cinnamon horchata.