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.
The specialty pho at Pho Island Express spoons helpings of beef, filet, mignon, or chicken into steaming, aromatic noodle broths, which guests are encouraged to loudly slurp to best taste the flavors or irritate fellow diners. They also cover the colder end of the spectrum, pouring green tea with lychee jelly and frosty milk drink with honey boba, pudding, and caramel. But that's not to say they don't touch on more solid fare—their vermicelli salad bowl hosts a choice of grilled beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp seasoned with lemongrass.
Beto's Grill's culinary craftspeople please border-bound palates with fresh, authentic Mexican cuisine in a fun, friendly atmosphere. The menu abounds with plates of piquant traditional favorites, such as carnitas tacos ($1.95 each), tangy sea-bass ceviche ($4.95), or mouthwatering guacamole ($6.95) prepared by hand at the table, and eaten by mouth at the plate. Diners delight in meaty main courses, such as a beefy steak picado served in red sauce ($11.95) or the chile verde, a juicy cut of pork in green tomatillo sauce ($10.95). Chili rellenos invoke the power of cheese-stuffed Mexican chilies to incite incisors with an elation they haven't felt since they were spared by the Tooth Fairy ($8.95).
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.
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.