Founded by ice-cream enthusiasts Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone Creamery has grown to more than 1,400 locations across North America. Each day, the shop's scoopers mix up fresh batches of ice cream and sorbet, which are served by the scoop, piled high in sundaes, and blended into shakes. After customers choose their desired flavor, the staffers toss the chilly sustenance upon a slab of frozen granite and fold in a smorgasbord of candy and nuts to achieve the ideal ice-cream-to-add-in ratio. Customers can dream up their own creations or opt for a signature masterpiece, sampling one of more than 11.5 million possible flavor combinations, which still await a brave conqueror to unlock them all. To accommodate sweets cravings at celebrations, staff members also dish out premade treats, such as ice-cream cakes and baked goods.
Drumrolls of snapping oil drift from skillets full of onions, beef tongue, and shrimp at El Chilitos Mexican Restaurant. Melting cheese in quesadillas and seafood enchiladas slips out into air tinged with the scents of cumin, garlic, and chilis. The staff blends Mexican and American influences in in dishes such as carne asada fries, which arrive under layers of cheese and marinated steak, and marinated shrimp and fish tacos utilize the bounty of the sea, much like Robinson Crusoe building a fax machine from kelp.
Indian cuisine is famously complex, but diners at Koyla Indian Restaurant get at least a peek at how it's prepared. The restaurant's signature cooking method is right in the name—koyla means "coal"—and chefs use its heat in full view within an open kitchen. Cinnamon and cloves, garlic and saffron fill the air as marinated chicken, shrimp, and goat simmer and sizzle. Although grounded in the cuisine of Northern India, founder Deep Singh and his chefs demonstrate a strong taste for experimentation. That's evident in the large menu's Indo-Chinese section, which holds hybrids such as chili paneer—the traditional Indian cheese spiked with house-made chili sauce. Pesto chicken and calamari masala reflect Singh's time as the proprietor of a small Italian cafe.
A mural of an especially cuddly-looking Taj Mahal brightens one wall of Koyla's softly-lit dining room. The motif continues as painted chili peppers wind around the room behind an ample buffet, served alongside champagne on the weekends.
The Far East and the Southwest converge behind the glass walls of Dragon Loco Chinese Food, where inventive cooks fuse traditional Chinese and Mexican flavors. The menu teems with tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, which can be stuffed with globally inspired fillings such as carne asada, spicy orange chicken, and Chinese barbecued pork. The burrito loco, a house specialty, pairs bacon’s salty crunch with grilled onions as hot and sweet as a greeting card from the equator. In addition to preparing in-house meals, the kitchen caters parties and meetings with trays of hearty tacos.
The chefs at Taco Hut grill up an expansive menu of traditional Mexican fare, as well as breakfast served all day. Greet the sun with a morning-time dose of chorizo and eggs ($7.99) or crack open a huevo ranchero breakfast burrito ($5.49) and prep for a full day of practicing axe-slashing skills on a neighbor’s picket fence. Patrons can explore the vast expanses of rice and beans strewn across a combo plate, as taste buds journey to the dish's main attraction: steak or chicken fajitas ($10.99). A chicken burrito ($6.99) sates hunger pangs and two tacos with a choice of meat ($7.99) occupy idle hands while diners use their feet to trim their mustaches.