Craig Gandolph entered the deli business on Long Island, making the sandwiches he’d always eaten growing up in New York. When love floated him to Salt Lake City, he missed the flavor of his hometown. So he opened the first Gandolfo’s New York Delicatessen and named his sandwiches after the Big Apple locales that he missed. Today, his little sandwich shop has grown to encompass dozens of franchises across the States, slinging sandwiches from both brick-and-mortar joints and gridlocked food trucks.
At the Pasadena location, a bold palette of red and black stretches from floor to ceiling. A strip of crimson marks the sandwich bar, where bread stackers display their handiwork. A flat-screen television flickers overhead, entertaining diners tired of starting conversations with brick walls.
The traditional Japanese dish shabu-shabu translates to “swish-swish” after the sound of thinly sliced meat or seafood cooking in a pot of broth populated with cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, and other vegetables. Tokyo Shabu Shabu specializes in this edible onomatopoeia, giving diners the opportunity to customize every part of their meals as they cook each bite themselves. Beginning with the broth, guests can build their pot around a savory miso, spicy kimchi, or 12 other liquid bases. Certified-Angus beef, delicately marbled Kurobuta Berkshire pork, or unique Japanese seafood selections such as fish cake cook swiftly in the flavorful broths. Patrons can pair their bowls with eight different styles of sake and Japanese bottled drinks such as Kirin tea or melon soda.
Soumarelo’s owners are passionate about Mediterranean food, and have an unquenchable thirst for culinary knowledge. So they travel regularly to taste new foods and ingredients and learn new recipes and techniques that they bring back to their customers. With this wealth of knowledge, their chefs create plates of rice with chicken cut fresh from the rotisserie, lamb shish kebobs, and still sizzling falafels, all enhanced with the creamy dollops of hummus and a cucumber yogurt spread. Appetizers include fluffy pits with traditional dips such as hummus, muhamara (walnut paste), and mutabel (eggplant dip), and salads that offer more global tastes, such as Greek salad, Armenian salad, and Oleev-Ya, Russian potato salad.
As sandy hardwood floors and a tropical mural conjure visions of sun-kissed shores, Kingston Café’s dining room fills with the spice-laden aroma of their kitchen’s colorful Jamaican dishes. Emerald fronds ring an airy space where Jamaica's national fruit, ackee, tempers the briny flavors of salted fish and house-made sangria or wine gurgles into glasses. Curry goat or jerk shrimp arrive with an entourage of toasted-coconut rice and plantains, played to their tables during weekly Saturday concerts featuring Caribbean Passion's reggae melodies or animatronic representations of famous steel-drum players.
Los Tacos founder Fidel Leos mined his experience as a maitre d’ and memories of his childhood south of the border to design Los Taco’s menu of authentic Mexican fare. Fillings such as shredded beef and fresh red snapper stuff the restaurant’s namesake tacos, and chefs also sling specialty steak dishes such as grill-kissed carne asada and lightly breaded milanesa onto waiting plates. Early birds dig into Mexican breakfasts such as chilaquiles and huevos rancheros, and meat-free forks can excavate a variety of vegetarian fare.
Big Daddy's Fire Grill's cooks whip up cookout-quality burgers in a fast-food setting, drawing praise for its homey flavors and remarkable value. At this burger joint, the cooks sear each Angus chuck patty on a grill heated by smoldering oak wood and NASA's retired shuttle engines. They also make aioli and ketchup in-house and sizzle every batch of fries and tempura-style onion rings in molten peanut oil, which is free of MSG, preservatives, hydrogenated oil, and cholesterol. Behind the counter, taps dispense domestic and imported beers by the pint or the pitcher.