Big Spoon Yogurt’s special topping bar complements hot cocoa and frozen yogurt ensembles with more than 75 novel accompaniments. Beverage construction commences at Big Spoon’s topping bar, where steaming chassis of hot cocoa ($1.25–$2.59) don marshmallow tires—in mint, german chocolate, cinnamon, and toasted coconut flavors—and warm-cookie steering wheels in a rousing race to anticipating taste buds. Patrons sweeten metric-system conversions with frozen yogurt by the ounce (price varies by location), available in chocolate, vanilla, and a rotating stock of non-dairy and sugar-free flavors. Seasonal winter flavors provide the taste of frozen eggnog without the hassle of holding company Christmas parties in a polar bear’s living room, and fall flavors scour a farmer’s windowsill for apple pie and pumpkin yogurt—all customizable with the bar’s more than 75 toppings.
The appetite tamers at Lamppost Pizza combine the tastiest veggies, grains, and cheeses to craft an expansive menu of Italian-focused fare. Make appetites swoon with the margherita pizza, a quintet of tomato, basil, garlic, olive oil, and mozzarella that croons romantically to tongues from a stage of crispy crust ($17.89–$24.99), or blitz social-life-bullying belly growls with The Linebacker pizza, a medley of salami, ham, pepperoni, ground beef, and bacon bits ($17.89–$24.99). Salads ($3.95–$9.95), sandwiches ($5.25–$7.45), calzones ($7.95), and bountiful bowls of pasta ($7.75–$19.95) round out the menu, with hot and hearty breakfast fare injecting excitement into mornings weighed down by looming tasks at the office (served daily from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.). Give pizza a sudsy soulmate with a pint of domestic ($3.50) or premium beer ($4), or plumb your tablemates' deepest psychological yearnings by crafting a Rorschach test out of a napkin stained with Redwood Creek cabernet ($4.50/glass).
If you ask chef Lek Saicheur where her recipes come from, she may regale you with stories of the bustling open-air markets of Bangkok, Thailand, where vendors peddle fiery noodles and sizzling fried fish. While pursuing her master's degree at U.C. Davis, Saicheur shared these dishes with her fellow students in Thai cooking classes. Their enthusiastic response compelled her to eventually open up her own Thai restaurant—Thai Recipes.
Deep in the kitchen, Saicheur and her sister whip up a variety of traditional curries and noodle dishes. The aromas of fresh basil, spicy peppers, and garlic flood the air as the sisters simmer meats in pure canola oil or liquid hot magma. They complement their plates of pad thai, green chicken curry, and stir-fried clams with bottles of imported Thai beer and glasses of cool coconut water. Thai Recipes also purifies it's water by using a reverse osmosis system.
Namaste Nepal takes its name and warm ambiance from the reverent Indian greeting, "Namaste," but the piping-hot helpings on each plate transcend cultural and geographic labels. Chinese, Indian, Tibetan, and Nepalese recipes contribute to the menu, filling a flavor spectrum that runs from pleasantly tangy to sizzling hot. Each dish is prepped to order using natural ingredients and often prompts speculation as to the size of the kitchen's spice cabinet. Notes of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron tantalize the nose, underlined with the scent of charcoal-roasted meat—chicken, lamb, fish, and shrimp—cooked in the tandoor and marinated in creamy yogurt sauce.
Careful combinations of these herbs and entrees lead to staples such as chicken tikka masala, as well as specialties such as boneless lamb with red chili sauce and tamarind. One of several vegetarian offerings, muttar paneer pairs housemade cheese with green peas, and four types of samosas entice diners to start meals by biting into crispy shells instead of by inconspicuously gnawing the tablecloth. Guests also can peruse well-stocked buffets at lunchtime and order group platters for catered events.
At first glance, Ciocolat appears no different than the cozy homes it neighbors. But a few steps closer reveals aromas of melting chocolate, baking pastry crusts, and fresh fruit fillings, not to mention views of french macaroons arranged in gleaming cases. During lunch and dinner hours, servers transport plates topped with creamy pasta dishes, vegetable frittatas, and wild-mushroom lasagna to dining customers, who can end their meals on a sweet note with éclairs, entire pies, or seasonal fruit tarts. The shop also accepts reservations for four-course high-tea services, which transport groups to another era with mini sandwiches, berries with Chantilly cream, flux capacitors, and gourmet teas served with Miss Match china.
Ciocolat donates a portion of its profits to local nonprofit agencies. The staff takes charity suggestions into consideration at the beginning of each month.
Uncle Vito's represents East Coast sensibilities with its menu of devotional New York pizzeria homages. Feed the fires of tradition with the classic New York pizza, a dough disk slathered in whole-milk mozzarella and sweet tomato sauce ($12.99 for regular), or search for and barter with the tropical treasures baked into the Big Kahuna, including canadian bacon, pineapple, solid-gold palm fronds, caramelized onions, red sauce, and fresh mozzarella ($15.99 for regular). Aspiring aliment architects can build their own circular comestible ($12.99 for regular), selecting from a plethora of toppings including red onions, green peppers, and prosciutto ($0.99–$1.99 each). Uncle Vito's savvy servers also sling sandwiches and burgers, such as the New York pastrami melt ($6.99) or Vito's Classic ($6.50), an old-fashioned burger making polite small talk atop an artisan bun.