It's not every day that an aroma can pose a question. Upon stepping into Plaza Garcia Family Mexican Restaurant, the smell of baking tortillas instantly compels diners to ask themselves: do I want to fill those steamy flour blankets with char-grilled beef, marinated chicken, or lime-infused shrimp? Wood-carved booths and colorful murals of adobe villages create an ideal backdrop for mulling over this important decision as diners snack on homemade chips and chunky pico de gallo. Once their gaze tapers off the lively décor and settles onto the menu, an overwhelming choice of enchiladas, fajitas, and other traditional entrees springs forth to lend a choice of beef, chicken, or seafood centerpieces. Meanwhile, margaritas splashed with racy tequilas mingle with other libations to give customers the courage to croon tortilla-themed love ballads during karaoke, which occurs every Saturday night at the Woodinville location.
Bella Vita offers a menu of authentic Italian entrees, traditional weekend brunch, and an expansive, international wine list set amid an inviting interior spotted with low-hanging lights and sleek marble accents. Once the green-napkin flag has been waved, diners are free to tear around the entree track, crashing into Arista alla Milanese, featuring braised pork shoulder stewed in white wine and sage, topped with a sausage-and-bacon sauce, and served snuggled with potatoes ($18). Smoked stacks of salmon fettuccini alfredo will impress even the most critical mermaid dates ($19), as will antipasti dishes such as the olive-oiled caprese ($10) and the gamberi rossi, featuring sautéed prawns with shallots and fresh tomatoes in a white-wine sauce ($12).
Most people like to have a say in what they’re eating—hence the popularity of buffets, build-your-own-burger joints, and smashed-open gumball machines. Fueled by an understanding of this fact, the Chilly Wave Yogurt staff rotate 15 flavors of self-serve soft-serves, including root-beer float, snickerdoodle cookie dough, and a tart peach mango. Guests can swirl their creations into cups and pile on more than 40 toppings, from Andes mints and marshmallow cream to mandarin oranges and trail mix.
The nonfat and low-fat yogurts are rich in calcium and loaded with probiotics to support healthy digestion, among other nutritional benefits. They contain between 100 million and 400 million live and active yogurt cultures per gram—and the National Yogurt Association only requires 10 million cultures per gram to earn its seal of approval. Except for a single flavor, the kosher-certified yogurts forgo high-fructose corn syrup, and many varieties are gluten-free.
Named for a the eight-spoke Thai horoscope wheel, Noppakao Thai Restaurant puts guests in control of their culinary destiny—even for just one night. The menu introduces diners to some of the finest examples of Thailand's rich culinary culture: from aromatic coconut-milk curries, to savory rice noodle stir-fries and rice dishes of marinated tofu, chicken, pork and trout. Each dish blends Eastern flavor with elegant presentation, with basil leaves, sliced peppers, cashews, and colorful curry sauces layered upon fragrant foundations of jasmine rice. Chefs lovingly craft specialty dishes of lemongrass chicken, garlic pork ribs, and deep-fried duck swimming in red curry, capped off with desserts of coconut milk ice cream and sweet mango sticky rice.
The interior reflects Thailand's island landscape, with towering palm trees, glowing lanterns reminiscent of sea life, and an aquarium. The walls also feature a giant, antique-style treasure map and sketches of jellyfish playing jump rope with pirates.
Owner Mike Salimi mans the counter at Nova Restaurant most days, opening and closing the cash-register drawer and handing over pizzas, homestyle burgers, sandwiches, and seafood to hungry customers. He has finely tuned his pizza recipe throughout the past 20 years, using trial and error to arrive at his current series of steps: hand-making pizza dough, homemade sauce, and toppings that are purchased each day. He also whips together an array of seafood dishes, including oysters, prawns, and Irish-style fish 'n' chips made with halibut or cod and coated in a specialty batter. He hangs colorful abstract paintings on the eatery's yellow walls, which is the closest humankind will ever get to decorating the sun.
The aroma of smoked pork belly draws guests into Butcher Shop Café, a butcher shop that sells fresh cuts of meat as well as café food such as sandwiches, burgers, and barbecue ribs. A case containing foie gras, duck confit, and Nueske's bacon rests next to a café, which serves a menu of burgers made with fresh-ground American Kobe Beef, hot dogs, and Carolina-style pulled pork shoulder. With advance notice, butchers can fulfill customer requests by smoking suggested meats and carving beef slices into birthday messages.