Growing up in Benton, Kansas, fourth-grade pals Monte Ysidro and Jason Bell were probably more focused on seeing the chalkboard clearly than opening a collection of high-end optical boutiques. And yet, beginning in 2002, that's just what they did, starting out humbly in a 10'x10' kiosk at a local mall. Today, friendly staffers at each Specs location point guests in the direction of designer frames and prescription sunglasses by brands such as Gucci and Versace. The crew also employs advanced technology to create lenses with high-performance coatings, custom-fit curves, and high definition, which allow wearers to make out the moon's facial expression.
The wireless wizards and service providers at AT&T Authorized Retailers equip phones with a wealth of accessories. An iGo green universal wall charger ($49.99) powers up virtually any phone at home (with corresponding cables, sold separately), and doubles as a battery backup to provide power when wall outlets run dry. Screen-protector two-packs for the Impulse 4G andd Xperia Play keep displays smudge and glare free ($15 each). Alternatively, an AGF leather-inlayed rubber case grants Samsung Galaxy S II's the protection of an iron gauntlet ensconced in a stylish velvet glove, and the Body Glove soft-shell case for Impulse 4G phones offers a smooth gel surface that stows easily without attracting pocket lint or belly-button lint masquerading as pocket lint ($30 each). Throw a party to celebrate newly acquired phone accessories with entertainment provided by an iHome mini-stereo speaker system, featuring two amplified speakers and vacuum bass expansion with a protective carrying case ($49.99).
“Stepping into the restaurant is like visiting the home of an Ethiopian friend,” writes the Austin Chronicle about Habesha Restaurant & Bar. Woven straw mesobs—hourglass-shaped tables designed for communal eating—are central to the restaurant’s traditional decor, along with Ethiopian artwork. The friendly staff is always happy to welcome newcomers, explain the menu, show them how to properly stretch before a meal, and make dish suggestions.
However, it's the authentic eats that form the backbone of Habesha Restaurant & Bar. To start, head chef Selam Abebe uses grains from Idaho to prepare injera, a traditional Ethiopian flatbread used to scoop up bites of food in place of utensils or your neighbor’s hand. She then prepares vegetarian and meat wot, tibs, and fitfit using recipes and techniques from her homeland. As the child of Ethiopian restaurateurs, Selam has had plenty of experience preparing the traditional dishes—she’s been cooking professionally since age 20.
Meals at Habesha Restaurant & Bar often end with a coffee ceremony, a sign of friendship and respect in Ethiopian culture. Servers carefully roast green coffee beans, grind them, sing them a lullaby, and then steep the grounds in hot water to create a rich, black coffee that they serve with hot popcorn.
Under Jacob’s Well’s high ceilings, the clattering of coffee cups and the fresh-baked aroma of pizza crust crisping in a brick oven sails through the space. Natural light spills over a checkered floor, and old maps and framed prints dot the walls as staff members artfully decorate lattes, topping cups off with flowers, perky-eared bunnies, or fire-breathing dragons. Sometimes their “latte art” veers into the abstract, leaving guests to interpret whether their java resembles a rocky mountain crag or the Greek symbol for caffeinate. Frequently, local musicians provide a soundtrack for patrons decoding their cups, mingling music with the coffeehouse’s usual upbeat banter.
Following the CrossFit ethos, Rocklin CrossFit designs high-intensity workouts that build strong, resilient bodies. Depending on their fitness level, participants may begin the muscle-manufacturing process with exercises that use only their body weight, such as squats, pushups, and tonguestands. As tone and technique improve, trainers tack on tonnage with the sonorous bells, dumb, and kettle bars, as well as plyometric boxes and medicine balls. Cardio blasters such as rowing, running, and rope jumping are also indigenous to workouts.
Family owned and operated, Two Brothers BBQ serves up a bounty of barbecue favorites on its menu, with high-quality ingredients and careful cooking uniting to wield savory and saucy sustenance. Relish the wrangling of rebellious wisps of hickory smoke with sliced meats such as beef brisket, turkey, or pulled pork ($6.29 for a half pound, $11.49 for a pound), or slam into a full slab of ribs ($18.99), cooked to perfection over the still-warm coals of found meteorites. For boosters of the bun, Two Brothers' West Wichita and El Dorado locations now offer The Burger Grill, with premium grilled burgers and decalescent dogs filling feast-holds and arriving via optional carhop service. Send your taste buds on a delicious trip back in time to the 1984 of the future with a Big Brother cheeseburger ($5.69), or go for the tubular tastes of the chili dog ($4.99), a quarter-pound kosher dog topped with smoked-brisket chili, onions, mustard, and cheddar. Side dishes (from $1.39 to $1.49/individual, up to $7.49–$7.99/quart) include french fries, corn cobettes, green beans, and scalloped potatoes.