The Flaming Ice Cube might as well be a good vibes factory. Part cafe, gift shop, and yarn shop, visitors can stop in for a veggie burger, knitting lesson, or soy candle. At the cafe, chefs craft homemade vegan plates from a menu that includes a BBQ chick'n sandwich and brown rice bowls layered with asian vegetables, marinated organic tempeh, and the cafe's signature plum sauce. Meanwhile, instructors get needles moving at knitting classes, during which participants learn knitting basics or more advanced techniques for creating hats, scarves, and impractical bikinis.
Margaret and Phillip Nabors were ahead of the curve in championing natural and organic foods when they opened Mustard Seed Market & Café in 1981. To ensure the integrity of every item stocked on their shelves, the Nabors developed a list of golden standards—nine guidelines that range from a ban on high-fructose corn syrup to selling only cruelty-free cosmetics. This combination of rigor and passion has propelled Mustard Seed for more than 30 years, filling two locations with locally grown produce, fresh-baked vegan cookies, and naturally lean-but-tender beef from certified Piedmontese cattle, which are raised on an all-vegetarian diet free of steroids and antibiotics.
Today, the Nabors' children, Abraham and Gabe, have joined their parents in leading Mustard Seed's team of natural-foods experts—who include everyone from the customer-service associates to the stockers, ensuring that shoppers can find answers to their questions around every corner. The store also educates customers through classes and free lectures on topics such as California wines and what’s going to happen when they run out of letters to name the vitamins.
More than 50 creative and classic toppings crown freshly kneaded dough at J's Pizza Market, which has claimed a Readers' Choice award for best pizza from MentorPatch for its pizza-crafting prowess. Patrons can choose from 34 specialty pies for at-home cooking or hunker down for in-eatery feasts. Gluten-free, white, or wheat crusts bubble atop a provided take-home pizza disk that emulates the cooking abilities and imperviousness to wolves of a brick oven, browning a variety of toppings, including barbecue pork. The restaurant's in-house wood stone hearth oven melts the Little Havana pizza's vegetarian blend of black olives, banana peppers, red onions, and tomatoes into a bed of cheddar and mozzarella atop black-bean sauce. Meat-laden sandwiches and crisp salads are also available as alternatives to circular sustenance.
The hybrid vegan café and gift shop deals in good vibes, whether they take the form of sandwiches and soups made from scratch, eco-fashions, or candles that both soothe the senses and keep away ghosts that are wearing flammable bed sheets. After tasting the zing of a spicy plum vinaigrette or biting into organic sprouted-grains bread at the Compassionate Café, guests can browse a selection of eclectic wares. Vegan jewelry sparkles with gemstones alongside Dead Sea mineral soaps and colorful socks made from recycled cotton, which are ideal for keeping a giant caterpillar warm.
The Boardman location also delves into the world of knitting with a lounge where needle artists can pick up skeins of silk or bamboo yarn, sink into armchairs, and clack away until they have a spider web to sleep in that night.
Shticks’ menu features a cast of fresh vegetables starring in healthy productions of hand-held edibles and homemade soups. Soft Lawash bread swaddles baba and tabbouleh as they nap on a bed of roasted red-pepper hummus and sprouts in the Red Sea wrap ($5), and far-out falafel ($5) entrances taste buds with a chickpea army and a giant black-light poster of a pita. Alternatively, meaty options such as Ruthies' roast-beef melt ($5.75) and Marvs' turkey-pastrami melt ($5.75), slathered with stadium mustard and mozzarella cheese, allow customers to indulge carnivorous impulses. For the summer months only, Shticks will be serving up cups of Spanish gazpacho ($3.25/cup) as a cool treat during warm afternoons and raging city fires.
At Sakura Sushi House, fresh morsels of fish, eel, and octopi nestle into handcrafted rolls, a hibachi grill sears steak, and teriyaki sauce infuses chicken and tofu with savory flavor. Patrons perch at the granite-topped sushi bar and browse a menu brimming with four pages of specialty sushi rolls, or lounge in maroon booths, filling squirt guns from bowls of udon noodles. In the kitchen, chefs season meats ranging from filet mignon to lobster and augment shrimp tempura with teriyaki. After chopsticks ferry the final pieces of maki to tongues, punch their timecards, and head home, diners sip hot or cold sake to finish the evening with a final gustatory flourish.