To maintain the authentic flavors in their Mexican and Salvadorian specialties, the kitchen staff at Olé Taqueria sticks to traditional cooking techniques and ingredients. They shape and bake their own tortillas for each dish, including burritos packed with marinated beef and tacos loaded with shredded pork. Their Salvadorian plates include tamales and quesadillas, as well as pupusas—thick tortillas wrapped around meats and cheeses, much like a last-minute Christmas present from a Mexican restaurant's chef.
In many larger U.S. cities, it's not uncommon these days to spot an eatery selling boba or pearl tea?blends of tea, milk, fruit juice, and flavored syrups that buoy marble-size spheres of chewy tapioca. On the West Coast, at least, Tapioca Express is partly to thank for that trend. Wayne Lin founded the growing chain of drink and snack shops in 1999, starting with simple versions of the Taiwanese delicacy and then systematically designing and testing new flavors?such as coconut pineapple and vanilla cookie?in a state-of-the-art flavor collider.
Today, the menu tallies more than 100 different kinds of drinks, including yogurt and fresh-fruit smoothies, creamy coffee drinks, and tea-based slushies. Snack choices may be a little easier: favorites from the concise, pan-Asian menu include crispy chicken, steamed buns, and tempura.
Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too! has been a classic Italian eatery since 1956, from the family-style meals and traditional dishes down to the red-checkered tablecloths. The building that houses its original restaurant in Mountain View has been around since the 1920s, and it has vacillated from a speakeasy to a coffee shop to its current state as a friendly Italian restaurant. At each of the company’s five locations, chefs masterfully toss pizza dough in the air to create specialty pies such as the vegetarian fantasy or seafood ecstasy, piled with scallops, shrimp, clams, and high concentrations of euphoria. The intoxicating aromas of garlic and marinara waft through the air as families and friends enjoy meals of house-made meatballs, New York-style Italian sausage, and veal scaloppini.
Aromas of warm brie crowned with fruit chutney and garlic confit, braised lamb shank, and sautéed lemon garlic chili shrimp fill the air at B'zu Café. Servers deliver plates of Mediterranean fare during lunch and dinner, including traditional favorites such as falafel and herb-marinated chicken kebabs and twists on classic dishes such as Zucca's ravioli with butternut squash, lemon cream sauce, and dried cranberries. Behind the full bar, bartenders pour frosty brews, glasses of wine, and shake up cocktails to help train for Yahtzee tournaments.
The philosophy at Jazen Tea is pretty straightforward?use fresh ingredients to create refreshing and healthy drinks. Every day, the staffers brew their teas from high-quality Taiwanese leaves and infuse the concoctions with fresh fruits, never using powdered mixes. Inside the colorful shops, they also serve up fresh-fruit smoothies topped with housemade whipped cream and other invigorating elixirs, such as the Treat-N-Sip, a blend of iced milk, caramel, honey boba, and egg pudding.
After working as both a Silicon Valley engineer and sushi chef, Tony opened his eponymous restaurant, serving up homestyle favorites such as pulled-pork sandwiches topped with cabbage, barbecued ribs that can be paired with sweet-potato waffle fries, and fried chicken breast on sourdough with a special sauce made of mayonnaise, sesame, and fish egg. Diners can conclude meals with gelato in more than a dozen flavors, including pistachio, strawberry, and mocha chip.