Not much has changed since Lovie Yancey opened the first Fatburger in 1952. Since then, the chain has expanded, but the food has stayed the same: 100% USDA lean beef burgers grilled to order and hand-scooped ice-cream shakes. Each restaurant stays true to Yancey's vision, even down to retro-influenced digs with jukeboxes blasting old school favorites designed to make listeners flash enthusiastic thumbs-up signs. Inside the kitchen, cooks stack burgers from 2.5-ounce burgers to 24-ounce triple burgers on toasted regular or gluten-free buns as fresh onions crisp inside fryers filled with cholesterol-free oil. Diners can also enjoy FatBurger's signature chili made with a secret blend of herbs and spices or milk shakes topped with dollops of whipped cream that resemble fluffy, white clouds shaped like marshmallows.
An elegant chateau sits on the hill at the center of Leoness Cellars’ vineyard, overlooking 70 acres lush with grapes. The chateau welcomes guests who come to visit its tasting rooms and serves as a compass of sorts for those who wander too far on walks through the purplish fields. It looks on as couples recite their vows during wedding ceremonies, and it houses a complete production facility where daily tour groups learn about the age-old methods of crushing, aging, and singing soft lullabies to grapes. Chef Daragh Matheson fills the chateau’s kitchen with the aromas of Alaskan salmon, ahi tuna, and beef carpaccio—specialties that pair exquisitely with the cellars’ wines.
Sunrider Wine Tours' knowledgeable guides⎯all of whom are or have been local-winery and vineyard employees⎯cart tourists through Southern California wine country's rural terrain in open-air or covered Jeeps. The guides share information on Temecula's history and first-hand knowledge of vino-making processes while shuttling guests to tastings at local wineries and answering questions, such as what tannins are and who invented grapes.
Situated at the crest of a 1,500-foot hill, the Falkner Winery overlooks the lush Temecula Valley. However, the view isn't the main attraction—it's a backdrop for the vineyard and its award-winning wines. The winery team grows the grapes themselves on their land, using viticulture practices they explain on informational tours. The grapes are then transformed on-site into their fleet of red and white wines as well as their smooth port, with most of the red wines aged at least three years to allow for an impeccably drinkable vintage. Their handiwork leads to some complex whites and reds, which visitors can sample at tastings, rather just waiting for bottles to give birth to sample-size vials.
The very drinkable wines also help complement the flavors in Mediterranean plates at the on-site restaurant, The Pinnacle. Its name is no empty brag—for the past seven years, 2013 included, it won Inland Empire Magazine's Best Restaurant award. The team—helmed by executive chef Gianni Ciciliot—prepare everything from Spanish braised octopus to wild mushroom and grilled chicken pasta and seafood-stuffed canneloni.
For years, Diana Colletti couldn’t outsmart her oven. Every dessert she touched burned to a crisp, so she tackled the problem by enrolling in baking classes, where she discovered her knack for cupcake making. Showing off her newfound skills, Diana began shuttling her original recipes to her workplace, where colleagues gobbled them up and begged for more. Before long, Incr-Edible Cupcakes was born. Since then, Diana has flaunted her baking skills for wedding receptions, birthday parties, and Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, proving once and for all that she has mastered her kitchen appliances.Today, more than 20 varieties of cupcakes spring from Diana’s kitchen, where she and several friends combine classic ingredients such as fresh eggs and sugar with gourmet fillings such as caramel, bavarian cream, and raspberry reduction. Frostings such as chocolate ganache and homestyle cream cheese swathe each cake in an extra layer of opulence, like a scarf made of freshly printed Monopoly money. The bakery also crafts cookies, brownies, and other treats, which can be delivered to Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties for a nominal fee.
On certain nights, belly dancers in bejeweled costumes wind between the tables at The Greek Place, showing off their moves as gauzy scarves trail behind them. Back in the bustling kitchen, chefs stuff grape leaves with herbed rice, whip up fresh hummus and tzatziki, and layer potatoes, eggplant, and béchamel sauce in moussaka. A dessert such as the phyllo-dough-and-walnut baklava, along with a pyrotechnic-fueled closing ceremony, brings meals to a memorable end.