Jantz Cafe & Bakery is truly a family operation. It first opened its doors in 2001 under the direction of brothers Larry, Sheldon, and Andrew. Their mother, Margaret, supplied the majority of the recipes, and even their grandmother chipped in some concoctions. The Jantz brothers originally envisioned their shop as a side operation, but when customers began arriving in throngs, they knew they were onto something much bigger.
Since that modest beginning, Jantz Cafe & Bakery has added two additional locations in Mariposa and Merced. At each, the family relies on the freshest ingredients available while churning out batches of freshly baked bread, homemade pies, and other treats such as O'Henry bars and sweet-potato muffins. The business remains in good hands, too, since the next generation of Jantzes has already begun to learn the ropes and prepare to bake the future's edible smartphones. The Merced location is located in the El Portal plaza making it an ideal place to stop by before or after appointments or whenever a craving for good ole' home cooking arises.
Upon first glance, Le Roi French Bakery looks a bit like a castle. Roses and metal curlicues line the space, where bakers flit in and out of a pair of saloon doors. Named for the French word for king, this bakeshop’s confections are enchanting and majestic, like a towering mountain of Magic 8 balls. At the counter, a brightly lit case brims with classic European treats such as éclairs, napoleons, tarts, and parfaits. The scent of espresso wafts by as staffers froth fresh milk for lattes and cappuccinos. Like a fairy tale about princes and princesses, these details inspire daydreams as patrons leaf through albums stuffed with hundreds of custom-cake ideas, including tiered wedding cakes adorned with fondant flowers and round delights flanked with fruits, frostings, or ladyfingers.
Combining a longtime interest in baseball with a love for cooking, Doug-Out Cookies founder Doug Low pitches customers a tasty selection of cookies and other sweet treats. “The Roster” features a variety of cookie flavors for clients to delightfully mix, match, and multiply into a double-dozen package that strikes out sweet-tooth sluggers faster than cake-battered curve balls. Cookie connoisseurs can step up to a plate of Super Star Triple Chocolates, peanut butters, oatmeal raisins, or "MVP" Milk Chocolate Chips (with or without the nuts). If that’s not enough to meet the dessert needs of cookie cravers, clients can stock their basement cookie-jar collection with amaretto chips, strawberry shortcakes, jalapeno sugar cookies, or Cambria Health Bars made with whole-wheat flour, flaxseed, oatmeal, walnuts, pecans, and coconut.
After a day at most salons, you might look better for a few weeks; after an hour at Permanent Beauty, you might look better for several years. That's because the center specializes in permanent-makeup applications, during which skin artists apply long-lasting, mineral-based pigment to eyes, lips, and brows. The pigments are designed to fade gradually over time so clients can change makeup styles and shades as they age, change their hair color, or disintegrate into their component Transformers. Ever conscious of sanitation, the technicians use brand-new materials and equipment on each client. The end result is that clients achieve the dramatic glances, full lips, and expressive brows they’ve always desired but couldn’t obtain without betraying Mr. Potato Head’s trust.
Owned and operated by CIA graduate and pastry expert Liz Scott, Crème de la Cake is not a walk-in retail bakery but an appointment-only bakeshop that specializes in custom cake creations. Liz crafts cupcakes with the same custom care she gives to seven-tiered solid-gold wedding cakes—and you get to order a dozen of these miniature artisan treats tailored to your specifications. Cake flavors include—but are not limited to—chocolate, vanilla bean, and red velvet, as well as more-Proustian flavors such as love, bittersweet summer flings, and lost time. For décor, select a simple fondant flower, polka dots in colors of your choosing, or almost any other design that can be achieved with icing on a circular three-inch canvas. Finally, you can fill your custom cupcakes with flavors such as lemon curd or chocolate fudge for an extra $12 per dozen; further design aspects will raise the price accordingly. Chef Liz makes everything from scratch (and even makes the scratch from scratch) using only fresh, locally available ingredients that are often organic and always of the highest quality.
Cupcakes Bakery's dedicated dessert connoisseurs rise early six days a week to bake a fresh batch of cupcakes and cinnamon rolls from scratch with all-natural ingredients. They drizzle gooey cinnamon rolls with icing and pipe swirls of frosting atop crowd-favorite red-velvet cupcakes, which are more popular than denim-suit Fridays at a bank. Newly added cheesecake cupcakes come in original, blueberry, chocolate, and strawberry flavors. The bakers stock displays with menu staples such as chocolate chip and orange creamsicle, and they don't skimp on their toppings, wedging an entire Oreo atop the Oreo cupcake, for example. They also whip up special flavors daily, such as chocolate-peanut-butter cupcakes on Wednesday and Saturday and pineapple upside-down cupcakes on Monday, Thursday, and Rube Goldberg Day. The confectionary roster also changes with the season to highlight its flavors, such as autumn pumpkin and boreal gingerbread.