Just behind a batch of tall hedges and palm bushes sits Joe K's Deli—a white building with pink accents and art-deco architecture that smacks of Americana. The feeling carries over into a menu of deli classics, including homemade soups, charbroiled burgers, and specialty sandwich melts, as well as vegetarian dishes such as vegetable skewers and falafel plates. Joe K's Deli serves breakfast and lunch, and its menu is available for party or office catering so that employees don't misfire staplers because of an empty stomach.
When owner Frank White took over this Downey eatery—then called Granata's Italian Restaurant—in 2011, the Granata family had already been serving Italian cuisine there for more than 54 years, according to the Downey Patriot. Today, White still plucks recipes from the family cookbook but has also added his own touch with a new menu of hot and cold Spanish-style tapas. Made with gourmet ingredients such as fresh clams, spanish piquillo peppers, and rich serrano ham, the new plates are small enough to be shared with friends or slingshotted spitefully at enemies. The chefs also use locally sourced ingredients for classic Italian meals whenever possible, festooning linguine carbonara with fresh sweet peas and veal parmigiana with rich tomato sauce.
In the renovated dining area, blue pendant lamps light the full bar and surrounding cherry-wood tables and chairs. Flat-screen TVs share wall space with murals of the Venetian canals where Leonardo da Vinci first learned to jet ski.
As visitors devour spoonfuls of sweet, creamy frozen treats at Menchie’s, they may notice a string of ’90s-era sitcom stars arriving to sample the wares and chat with the man in charge. That’s because owner/operator David Lipper first made a name for himself on Full House playing D.J. Tanner’s boyfriend Viper. Today, Lipper proudly sits atop a local frozen-yogurt empire, edging out his fellow cast mates’ enterprises, including Dave Coulier’s network of Swiss banks and John Stamos’s ’50s-themed doggy daycare. Inside the shop, diners select from a colorful array of flavors, such as low-carb pistachio or fruity watermelon tart, and crown their creation with toppings including sprinkles, mocha, hot fudge, and locally grown fruits.
After leaving home for Hollywood at age 14 and donning a butcher's apron, Uncle Henry opened his own deli in 1959, helmed today by his nephew and great-nephew, George and George Gaul III. Beer steins hang on the back wall above an old-fashioned marquee menu as staffers in red aprons pile sandwiches with pastrami, roast beef, sharp cheddar, sauerkraut, and other fillings in Whimpy, Super Size, and 13-ounce Baby Bomber portions. Uncle Henry's also caters special events with gargantuan party subs, and rents out sturdy kegs large enough to keep parties quenched or 8-bit plumbers from attacking pet Donkey Kongs.