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.
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.
At Siam Kitchen, skillful chefs whip together a multitude of noodles, rice, curry, teriyaki, and other authentic Thai dishes to create an expansive menu of flavors. A choice of pork, beef, chicken, or tofu is the main star in the pad gra tiem prig thai dish, where adoring chefs shower it with garlic-pepper sauce and heartfelt love letters on a stage of lettuce and cilantro ($8.95). Nosh on traditional fried rice ($7.95) or slurp up the pad woon sen ($7.95), where chicken, shrimp, a host of vegetables, and silver noodles mingle with a house brown sauce. In a teriyaki dish, a choice of meat or tofu mingles with chopped cabbage and carrots in a homemade teriyaki sauce ($8.95), teaming up to satisfy cravings for zest and fit the pieces of their friendship necklaces together.
Spicy Pickle complements it's eponymous cured cucumbers with a suite of sandwiches, soups, salads, and more, all built with care and fresh ingredients. Feel free to punish stubbornly unmelted cheeses with a panini, featuring fresh foccacia bread piled high with toppings and pressed until delectable in a hot griddle, or nosh an un-pressed sandwich on a ciabatta roll. Menu options span from the Santa Cruz sandwich, its roasted turkey surrounded by avocado, corn relish, cheddar cheese, and chipotle mayo ($7.45), to the South Side panini, which finds gruff roast beef forced out of retirement for one last mission with wise-cracking pepperoncinis, red onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar, and horseradish mayo ($6.75). Alternately, a fleet of salads awaits commission in entree and side-salad sizes (from $3.25), alongside soups (from $3.25), personal pizzas (from $6.95), and build-your-own sandwiches ($7.35).