A little family run spot, Saigon Bistro Express pours a heap of passion into every Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, noodle soup, and grilled sate skewer. Lemongrass tofu stars in vegetarian entrees, while fresh fruit shakes cool off palates still smarting from flavorful bites of spicy beef or chicken rice bowls. The cafe atmosphere is welcoming and casual, with orders taken at the counter and delivered to your table by restaurant staff. Throughout the day, customers breeze through the friendly, family-owned dining space, stopping in for a full meal or a quick bite.
The bean barons at Second Street Café sling brewed-to-order fair-trade coffee, specialized sippables, and breakfast and lunch fare that employs fresh organic produce. Shake off nightmares of showing up fully clothed at a nudist beach with the Jump Start ($2.85–$3.25), which drops a double shot of espresso in a cup of classic joe from the nearby Verve's Coffee Roasters. A selection of bagels ($1.65–$2.95), breakfast sandwiches ($3.95–$4.95), and breakfast burritos ($3.95–$4.25) ensure a mollified morning, while iced americanos ($2.50) and lattes ($3.50) cool off humid highway hoppers.
As if in homage to simpler times, the menu lettered beautifully on The Ice Box's chalkboard is short and sweet. The main draw here is frozen treats, waffle cones piled high with Marianne's Ice Cream, and sweet popsicles made in-house in flavors such as thai iced tea. Diners construct a squarer meal when they order one of the shop's savory treats, including paninis fresh off the grill and crepes folded around turkey and avocado. Guests can sit outside and admire the retro-style signage; inside, they can lunch next to the 1928 combination stove-ice box and try to get it to tell who was really president back then.
In 1996, in Washington State, taste tied the knot with health as the first Emerald City Smoothie location oversaw a marriage that, today, has grown to 50-plus locations across the United States. There was no exchange of vows, and objections—if any existed—were quickly muted by a chorus of "Mmms," as fresh-fruit smoothies treated sippers to healthy, on-the-go meals. To help patrons navigate its vast selection without a map made of crazy straws, Emerald City Smoothie divides its menu into categories, such as Boost My Immune System, Help Me Lose Weight, and Just for Kids. Past smoothies, nutrition weaves a common thread through each store's additional offerings, including meal alternatives, snacks, and supplements from major brands.
Vibrant South American, North American, and Middle Eastern flavors come together between slices of bread at Mundos 2. According to a profile in the Monterey County Weekly, brothers Eli and Fernando Mundo, who also own Mundo's Cafe, not only use creative ingredients in their sandwiches—including paprika-flecked chicken breast and Argentinian tri-tip—but also slather them in secret housemade sauces.
Cream cheese and cranberry sauce join turkey breast, mustard aioli coats the pastrami sandwich, and housemade falafel sandwiches may be slathered in hummus. Burgers get flame-broiled before hitting buns, as do eggplant cutlets, red bell peppers, and other veggies.