Cyclones Tex Mex Cantina entwines Mexican cuisine with flavors of the Lone Star state with a menu of traditional burritos, fajitas, and tacos, spiced up with spreads of charbroiled chicken and bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp. Food ferriers walk through brick archways balancing platters of handmade chicken or pork tamales ($9), presenting them to diners lounging in comfy green booths. The Camarones Mazatlan sees six jumbo shrimp marinated in garlic and butter, then skewered on a lance by a miniature knight and brought to the table with tomato slices and avocado ($13). The Tacos Gringos enfold a vegetarian mix of beans, cheese, tomatoes, and guac ($8), while a sweet duet of flan ($4) and Texas Oil mud pie ($5) fill out the menu’s desserts section. Barflies can perch or headstand on stools at a corrugated-tin counter and lick the salt from Cyclones Tex Mex Cantina’s specialty margaritas.
Bravo Baja, which has recently undergone a name change, swiftly silences ornery appetites with fresh meats, vegetables, and 14 inches of tortilla weaponry. Consult a menu of edible building materials to construct a Bravo burrito ($5) beaming with structural innovation. Fill the void with spicy carnitas (pork) spooned over white or spanish rice, Baja black or SoCal refried beans, and a selection of more than 20 fillers such as peppers, bacon, guacamole, and mexican potatoes. Dress beanbags in queso or chimi sauce for $1 more. Diners can also buck carnivorous currents by diving into plates of Ensenada fish tacos ($2.50 each) and fluffy breakfast burritos ($7). Wash down lingering hints of spice with canned drinks ($1) or juicy Spanish sodas ($1.50).
Sippers Coffeehouse's friendly baristas brew hot, iced, and blended concoctions with locally roasted arabica coffee. Steamed milk or soymilk and espresso whirl together to create macchiatos as well as hot or iced lattes in flavors such as almond, raspberry cheesecake, and white-chocolate peppermint topped with snowcaps of whipped cream. Blended drinks send energizing chills down guests' spines, while guests limiting caffeine intake may opt for chai lattes and hot chocolate to keep insides as warm and tranquil as a slumbering bunsen burner. Coffee lovers can keep it simple with a medium-size freshly brewed Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee or enliven their taste buds with the rotating flavor of the day. Posters and local art cling to turquoise, cobalt, and warm violet walls as guests surf free WiFi and lounge on a hodgepodge of bright pink club chairs, plush couches, and tables. Natural light streams into the coffee shop as drink orders are taken through a drive-thru window for tired mine carts on the go.
For the people at Bento Café, it’s important for patrons to have an experience. A good experience, mind you, but a very memorable one when they visit one of the Bento Café locations. A ‘Bento Blue’ (some are blue themed, some are red themed, but all are unique!), Bento Café at Big Island Drive features a modern, fun ambiance with blue hued walls, floors and white-blue lighting (the light fixtures are pretty neat!) and a location that’s perfect for working professionals and shoppers alike! As far as the food goes, the menu leaves nothing to be desired. Bento Café’s sushi menu is huge, offering a lot of variety to patrons up to and including the large executive rolls! For those not in the mood for sushi, the kitchen menu includes the finest choices from the wok (like red curry or garlic soy) as well as noodle soup bowls, a great selection of starters, grill stir fry and of course, a kids menu! Bento Café also offers a good selection of non-alcoholic beverages to be enjoyed by the whole family.
This eclectic drink spot in the heart of historic San Marco offers coffees, smoothies, fresh juices and frozen yogurt, making Pulp an all-around space for relaxing with friends or picking up a quick beverage to go. Pick off the menu or have the juice barista custom blend a special, often involving wheat grass, carrots, beets or apples, with touches of lemon and ginger thrown in for flavor. Locally roasted, ground-to-order coffees are served French press, hand drip or Turkish style alongside organic teas, while beer and wine make for more adult offerings. Even the frozen yogurt is organic at Pulp, and comes in a variety of bright, citrusy flavors. With its orange logo and bright yellow walls, Pulp is equally as vibrant, sporting an oak bar and long ceiling beams, hanging lantern lights, an extensive chalkboard menu and a few scant tables both inside and on the patio.
Secret Garden Café made its national debut in 2011 on the Food Network channel when it appeared on Restaurant: Impossible, where Robert Irvine and his team overhauled the menu and gave the restaurant a spruce-up. Since then, patrons have embraced the eclectic breakfast and lunch offerings by this Southside café. Early morning options include the Hot Mess (three eggs scrambled with bacon, sausage and ham on a bed of café potatoes, with shredded cheese and diced tomatoes) and lunches like the fried bologna sandwich or black bean burger. Inside, simple tile floors, wood tables, chairs and benches provide ample seating, and colorful sea foam green walls, pottery and garden art give off the note of a tucked away orchard. Warm sconce lighting gives Secret Garden Café a warmhearted vibe.