Bravo Baja, which has recently undergone a name change, swiftly silences ornery appetites with fresh meats, vegetables, and 14 inches of tortilla weaponry. Consult a menu of edible building materials to construct a Bravo burrito ($5) beaming with structural innovation. Fill the void with spicy carnitas (pork) spooned over white or spanish rice, Baja black or SoCal refried beans, and a selection of more than 20 fillers such as peppers, bacon, guacamole, and mexican potatoes. Dress beanbags in queso or chimi sauce for $1 more. Diners can also buck carnivorous currents by diving into plates of Ensenada fish tacos ($2.50 each) and fluffy breakfast burritos ($7). Wash down lingering hints of spice with canned drinks ($1) or juicy Spanish sodas ($1.50).
Sippers Coffeehouse's friendly baristas brew hot, iced, and blended concoctions with locally roasted arabica coffee. Steamed milk or soymilk and espresso whirl together to create macchiatos as well as hot or iced lattes in flavors such as almond, raspberry cheesecake, and white-chocolate peppermint topped with snowcaps of whipped cream. Blended drinks send energizing chills down guests' spines, while guests limiting caffeine intake may opt for chai lattes and hot chocolate to keep insides as warm and tranquil as a slumbering bunsen burner. Coffee lovers can keep it simple with a medium-size freshly brewed Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee or enliven their taste buds with the rotating flavor of the day. Posters and local art cling to turquoise, cobalt, and warm violet walls as guests surf free WiFi and lounge on a hodgepodge of bright pink club chairs, plush couches, and tables. Natural light streams into the coffee shop as drink orders are taken through a drive-thru window for tired mine carts on the go.
After testing out his recipes at a few local and state fairs, French Fry Heaven’s founder, Scott Nelowet, decided to give the people what they wanted: delicious fried russet and sweet potatoes customizable with gourmet toppings. Classic fries, known as Angels, come in set combos such as Dutch Angels with mayo, or Baked Tater Angels with cheese, bacon, and chives. Sweet-potato fries, known as Saints, come in combos such as Breakfast Saint with maple syrup or Kenberry Saint with blueberry and vanilla.
Substituting fat for more healthful probiotics, Yobe refreshes taste buds with guilt-free spoonfuls of all-natural self-serve yogurt. Made with organic milk, real fruit, and no artificial sweeteners, each ounce of yogurt packs just 25 calories, letting diet-conscious taste-testers engorge stomachs while tightening belts. The shops' soft-serve machines dish out 31 classic and exotic flavors such as açaí berry, passion fruit, lychee, and vanilla ($0.49/oz). After piling bowls high with toppings, such as fresh banana, kiwi, pineapple, or m&ms, cookie dough, or peanut-butter cups, tone-deaf taste buds find themselves serenading incisors with John Fogerty lyrics.
The Spice & Tea Exchange treats taste buds and olfactory sensors to a smorgasbord of hand-mixed seasoning blends and gourmet steepables. Freshly bagged daily, custom-concocted blends and rubs, such as the Moroccan blend or the tandoori seasoning, enliven dull dishes with worldly flavors. Massage Butcher's Rub ($4.29–$16.80) into steaks, burgers, and stressed-out cows prior to grilling for extra-zesty grub, or sprinkle it upon vegetables to confuse carnivores into eating greens. More than 170 spices create piquant provisions sure to tantalize taste buds, including beer powder, a nonalcoholic dehydrated version of the popular brew ($4.89–$19.17), or Dutched cocoa, a mellow chocolate suitable for sprucing up warm beverages or supplying and army of microscopic confectioners ($3.89–$15.25). Sprinkle maple syrup granules ($4.29–$16.82) onto ice cream, fruit salad, or other sweet treats to enhance saccharine delights with a hint of nature.
Rifle through the pages of the menu at Nirvana Cafe, and you'll see dishes inspired by cuisines from across the globe—there's tender gyros and kebabs from the Mediterranean, plump perogi from Eastern Europe, and tangy Korean-style carrot salad. But there's also a variety of American favorites, such as chicken salad wraps and creamy new york cheesecake. As chefs bring these dishes to life in the kitchen, diners lounge on banquettes amid the bold red walls of the bright dining room, sipping freshly squeezed juices and imported Russian beers.