Los Tacos founder Fidel Leos mined his experience as a maitre d’ and memories of his childhood south of the border to design Los Taco’s menu of authentic Mexican fare. Fillings such as shredded beef and fresh red snapper stuff the restaurant’s namesake tacos, and chefs also sling specialty steak dishes such as grill-kissed carne asada and lightly breaded milanesa onto waiting plates. Early birds dig into Mexican breakfasts such as chilaquiles and huevos rancheros, and meat-free forks can excavate a variety of vegetarian fare.
A long, dark bar with deep red napkins and neon blue lighting entices diners at R2 Kazoku to take a seat and see what might come next. From there, a counter full of fresh seafood encased in lit glass reveals diners' sushi selections before a chef readies them into edible art. A quick glance and the menu reveals an exponential number of options for the fish, including sashimi and special rolls such as the black dragon roll with eel. Chefs also pluck yakitori selections of pacific saury or pork belly straight from the grill, amazing everyone at their fingers' resistance to extreme heat.
Clearman's Galley, which started as a hamburger stand with patio seating in 1968, has become a whale of a restaurant: its patio alone can seat 90 people, and the restaurant itself, resembling a fishing shack built by mer-giants, holds 300. But locals are still likely to call it "The Boat." The origins of that name are visible in the chipper red-and-white boat that sits outside, but to fully uncover its backstory, diners would need to take a waterproofed time machine back to 1913. In those days, that boat was a real, seaworthy vessel on the Pacific Ocean that ran mail between San Francisco and Alaska. In 1968, it docked permanently on Huntington Drive and transformed into a hamburger stand, and when owner John Clearman decided to expand the restaurant, he simply dug a shipping canal and brought the boat along with him.
Today, waiters carry plates of the galley's signature cabbage salad and cheese bread to scores of hungry families. The rest of the menu is still stocked with casual grill food: fried chicken, chili cheeseburgers, and cod dinners grace tables alongside 25-ounce beer steins, which bartenders fill with more than 20 imported and domestic brews on tap. Sunday breakfast brings pancakes and breakfast burritos, and at most hours of the day, diners will notice that the Galley has a third love in addition to good food and the sea: sports. Staff root alongside customers for teams from the NFL and the local T-ball league alike, and games flash across no fewer than 16 HDTVs.
Assisting everything from relaxation to energy boosts, Muse Tea House's tea gurus blend black, green, and oolong leaves with flavors that range from blueberry and passionfruit to lavender and rose. Chewy boba and aloe pearls nestle at the bottom of almond and taro milk teas, and royal sparkling sodas—started with San Pellegrino mineral water—tickle tongues with bubbly flavors of peach and pomegranate. For something more filling, patrons can opt for a fruity, syrup-free yogurt drink made with organic ingredients from France and Japan or toss back items from the kitchen, such as macarons, squid balls, and sliced barbecue pork on dry noodles.
Muse Tea House cultivates an intimate, hushed atmosphere with a row of low-set tables and cozy booths shaded by patterned gossamer curtains. Thick, burgundy drapes frame each sun-drenched front window, which cast natural light on a smooth, stone floor so that customers can draw perfect hopscotch courses in chalk.
The first Kee Wah Bakery appeared in Hong Kong in 1938, where its moon cakes, bridal cakes, and other pastries gradually generated a loyal clientele. In 1985, when much of that clientele had migrated to the United States, Kee Wah set down new roots in LA to offer its signature floury goods to Californians. Patrons pick from crispy egg tarts, red-bean swirls, and pineapple crust buns using a self-serve bakery system, which is refilled with fresh breads baked three times a day. During the autumn, when the Chinese Lunar Festival is in full swing, the bakery churns out moon cakes filled with lotus seed and red-bean paste. The shop's three locations in the San Gabriel Valley?Monterey Park, San Gabriel, and Rowland Heights?help meet the demand for Chinese wedding cakes and almond cookies throughout the valley.
Twice each day, JJ Tea House's baristas brew tea. They serve it poured over ice and will stir in milk, tapioca beads, and flavors such as lychee or strawberry by request. There are a slew of specialty drinks for guests to sip: avocado smoothies, Oreo milkshakes, and green-apple yogurt are just a few examples.
The spot's cooks also prepare snacks such as egg rolls, mini corn dogs, and rice plates with minced pork or slices of sausage. Operated by a group of self-professed WiFi junkies, JJ Tea House is an inviting place to curl up with a laptop and surf the Internet complimentarily.