Black bears love strawberries. The bears of Northern California could often be seen wandering through the berry patches surrounding Mt. Shasta, an area favored by travelers since the 19th century because of the charmingly hospitable inns and restaurants found there. Bob and Laurie Manley were inspired to recreate the area’s post–Gold Rush hospitality, and they opened their first restaurant, Black Bear Diner, near those same strawberry patches. Nearly 20 years later, their brand has grown to encompass 50 different locations, each of which retains the founders’ principles of small-town charm and generosity. The menus also preserve the mom-and-pop vibe, with dishes such as secret-recipe sweet-cream pancakes, old-fashioned burgers wrapped in wax paper, and, of course, homemade bear claws. Each location is adorned with a trademark bear sculpture that has been hand-carved by Washington chainsaw artist Ray Schulz, who often grants his works with regional characteristics such as cowboy hats or taxi-hailing skills.
The local owners of The Cracked Egg whip up fresh, bountiful portions of the versatile ovular treat and much more in a warm, intimate setting for both breakfast and lunch. Their menu lumbers with creative choices, including a plentitude of gluten-free options. The eggs Benedict ($9.95) is the savory and lawful choice of hollandaise-glazed poachers, and omelets like the El Vaquero ($9.95) arrive fluffier and foldier than the finest edible cashmere sweaters. Noshers in need of a homespun sugar kick can neighbor a Mexican Skillet ($9.25) with a delectable slice of homemade coffee cake ($3.25).
A nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities, New Vista Community hosts festive fundraisers throughout the year. Savvy to the pulse of the community, event organizers throw raucous events such as wine walks, which regale guests with the foolproof combination of fine food samples, wine and cocktails, and live music. Guests at the Brew's Best Hand-Crafted Beer festival sip free samples of regional brews, and at the lighthearted Adam & Eve's Love Fling, love-happy attendees and confused mannequin collectors bid on bachelors and bachelorettes.
Though many in the community may know New Vista Community primarily for these events, the organization dedicates its best energies to help those with disabilities. Founded in 1984 by three sets of parents with intellectually challenged kids, the charity provides group homes, assisted living, job training, and field trips to kids and adults.
In the kitchens at Kyklos Greek Cafe, Sophocles, Constantine, and Ioannis Frangakis devise tasty dishes that draw on their Greek heritage and family recipes. Diners can select entrees from the eatery's medley of gyros, including the chicken gyros supreme, topped with feta cheese, and the philly gyros, replete with hot sauce and a Liberty Bell-esque crack in its pita bread. The menu further quells belly rumblings with an eclectic mix of homemade hunger-fixers, including greek salad, lamb-stuffed grape leaves, and the mediterranean sampler plate, a medley of falafel, tahini, hummus, tabbouleh, kalamata olives, and pita bread used to sop up every last morsel. Complete the transition from an innie to an outie with a bellybutton-bursting dessert, such as homemade baklava or melomakarona, traditional Greek–style cookies dipped in honey and topped with crunchy walnuts.