Artwork, gifts, and feminine white vines line the walls of Ashes' Boutique & Tea Garden, where a cozy tearoom is nestled among gauzy curtains and white-lace tablecloths. Owner and artist Dana serves up pots of leafy brews and assorted nibbles during afternoon tea services, suitable for patrons of all ages and hat sizes. Dana also curates a thoughtful collection of gifts that include candles, jewelry, and attire.
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.
Pillowy dollops of icing sit atop Caketails Cupcakes’ gourmet miniature cupcakes, whose flavors find inspiration in classic fruit and chocolate cocktails. Though free of alcohol and perilous olive spears, each pintsize dozen packs in the tempting tastes of drinks such as piña coladas, mimosas, and strawberry daiquiris. Lift a round of champagne cupcakes high into the air for a poignant post-dinner toast, stage impromptu fiestas on palates with the moist cake of the margarita, or bob for cherries nestled into the icing of caramel appletinis. After a 48-hour advance order, cupcakes pop out of the oven and don crowns of fluffy frosting studded with decorative treats such as chocolate, fruit, and gummy candies.
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).
Substituting fat for more healthful probiotics, Yobe refreshes taste buds with guilt-free spoonfuls of all-natural self-serve yogurt. Made with organic milk, real fruit, and no artificial sweeteners, each ounce of yogurt packs just 25 calories, letting diet-conscious taste-testers engorge stomachs while tightening belts. The shops' soft-serve machines dish out 31 classic and exotic flavors such as açaí berry, passion fruit, lychee, and vanilla ($0.49/oz). After piling bowls high with toppings, such as fresh banana, kiwi, pineapple, or m&ms, cookie dough, or peanut-butter cups, tone-deaf taste buds find themselves serenading incisors with John Fogerty lyrics.
Outside of swimming laps in chocolate syrup, smoothies at Smoothie King are the tastiest way to improve your health. Smoothie King smoothies combine fresh fruit, natural juices, and special nutritional enhancers into more than 90 flavors (you can customize, add, and subtract the extras), all of which focus on achieving one of seven nutritional goals. Try an antioxidant-rich Pomegranate Punch with pomegranate, bananas, blueberries, apple juice, soy protein, and Turbinado sweetener to stay healthy. Weight-conscious en-smuthiasts can trim down and float away with the Celestial Cherry High, packed with bananas, black cherry, papaya, Turbinado, and honey, and unpacked with fat. You can also customize any smoothie by adding enhancers or “make it skinny” by cutting out the honey and Turbinado.