The cooks at Velvet Grill & Creamery understand the timelessness of classic diner fare and a cold scoop of ice cream. All day long, they make breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes from scratch and churn out fresh batches of more than 20 ice-cream flavors. Breakfast seekers satisfy savory cravings with three-egg omelets stuffed with ingredients such as avocado, crab, linguiça, and feta cheese. Sweet teeth tear into Velvet's original pancakes, made with real oatmeal and buttermilk from a special house recipe. Later-day options include classic comfort fare such as chicken-fried steak and smoked pork chops doused with an apricot glaze. Among the sandwich selection, the house-special mega grilled cheese ($7.39) combines four kinds of melted, gooey cheese between three slices of bread to form a meal hefty enough to knock over Mechagodzilla should he return from his semester abroad in Prague. Diners can also lap up the eatery's rotating selection of homemade ice creams, which were spotlighted in the Lodi News-Sentinel for their incorporation of such unconventional ingredients as wine and butternut squash. Customers can also suggest new flavors and request special batches, which in the past have included licorice, bacon, and the sweet, sweet taste of victory over chinese finger traps.
Dream Dinners founders Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna want to help families gather around the table for delicious meals. Like many parents throughout the country, the two women tried to coordinate a family dinner, but their efforts were often thwarted by hectic schedules. As a dinnertime strategy, Stephanie began to prepare meals with fresh, raw ingredients and then freeze them so they could be quickly thawed and cooked during the week. This tactic became popular with her family. Before long, friends, friends of friends, and chimpanzee families that mimicked their friends wanted to learn her secrets. With help from Tina Kuna, she established the first Dream Dinners location, and the successful food-prep business has led to the creation of more than 90 stores in less than three years.
At each Dream Dinners location, customers find all the culinary tools to prepare a nutritious meal—everything from fresh ingredients to meal-packing materials. Each week Dream Dinners features a new menu of fix-and-freeze dinners that can be made for up to six people, providing customers with numerous options for planning quiet meals at home or dinner parties with friends. All ingredients are precut and measured to ensure an error-free fixing.
For more than 30 years, the chefs of De Vinci’s Elk Grove have been hard at work perfecting the traditional Italian recipes that stock their deli counter. They begin every morning with their hands floury, crafting doughs that will form the base of housemade foccacia breads, cheese-filled ravioli, and custom sandwiches. Joined occasionally by a fluffy ravioli mascot in a toque, staff combine dishes into prearranged packages ready for the family dinner table or parcel out single dishes by the pint, quart, gallon, or 10-gallon hat.
Cooks inside the kitchen of George’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill cover plates with tender new york steaks, glazed baby back ribs, and slow-roasted prime rib. In addition to dinner entrees, they char grill burgers and top them with crisp bacon and onions sautéed in bourbon chipotle sauce and build fish sandwiches with beer-battered cod filets for lunch. Servers deliver glasses of wine, beer, and neat pours of milk from the full bar to sip between bites.
SOS Club is an unusually luxurious take on a gym—for one, there's an on-site bar and restaurant. For another, there's not one swimming pool, but three, including a heated one. The array of sports courts, meanwhile, ranges from tennis courts to basketball ones. For a group workout, members can also take to the group fitness studios, for sessions of mini-ball Zumba, Pilates, yoga, or pirate toga.
Named Best Bakery 2010 by San Joaquin Magazine, M&W Dutch American Bakery uses tried-and-true European recipes to bake up a mixed bag of delectable cakes, cookies, and other treats. Take home a dozen of M&W’s wholesome cookies ($4–$5) in flavors such as Florentine, chocolate chip, and soft, chewy oatmeal. Loaves ($2–$3.50) of sourdough, wheat, french, and challah bread spring from the oven perfectly roasted and ready to be consumed by a hungry breadivarian. The bakery also offers danishes ($1.25), croissants ($1.50), and a plethora of other meticulously crafted pastries. M&W even whips up a variety of lunchtime bites, with specialties such as jagtwurst ($3.50) and sauerkraut-covered pastrami ($3.50) to feed the German national polka orchestra when it plays impromptu shows in your backyard.