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.
The Marble Slab Creamery sensory experience begins by just walking past the storefront, where the buttery scent of fresh-baked waffle cones drifts out into the air. Gourmet ice creams are freshly crafted on site from Marble Slab’s original recipe, enticing customer's eyes with a rainbow of colors. Once clients have made a flavor selection, they choose from a smorgasbord of mix-ins, from fresh fruit to nuts to candy and crumbled cookies, which an ice cream chef then hand-folds in atop a frosty marble slab before packing the finished custom-designed flavor masterpiece into a house-made waffle cone.
In addition to procuring hand-held treats, Marble Slab Creamery can send creations home in a variety of other formats, such as ice cream cakes, cupcakes, and hand-packed quarts, or in the capable hands of a catering team for sprucing up special events such a corporate get-togethers or school functions with portable marble slabs or sundae bars in tow.
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.
A smiling sunflower beams from Lollicup’s walls, menus, and cups. It’s an appropriate emblem for a teashop that specializes in whimsical drinks flavored with cotton candy, bubblegum, and passion fruit. Drink slingers pour more than 170 tea- and milk-based beverages and anchor them with tapioca, pudding, jelly, and tiny anvils. Though the drinks may be kid-friendly and colorful, Lollicup’s curators take the ingredients seriously: they select only the freshest cassava root for their boba and brew green and black teas from high-quality leaves.
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.
Valley Lahvosh Baking Company's artisan bakers, who've been crafting doughy delights since 1922, forge their signature crackerbreads using three generations of Armenian family recipes. Bags of 15" crackerbread rounds––which double as throwing discuses for teddy bears––come in original and cracked-wheat varieties that buyers can slather in condiments or use to make wrapped sandwiches. A great base for hors d'oeuvres served at parties and social gatherings, boxes of Heart and Star Lahvosh crackers cheerily accept dips and spreads on unique cutout shapes. Rather than impersonating a horse to receive sugar cubes, buyers can get their sugary kicks with a bag of heart-shaped Sweetheart Snacks lightly dusted with cinnamon. Each assorted holiday package bears a chip clip that keeps snacks inside their bags and helps preserve freshness.