On opening day in 1993, a crowd of 100 clamored for a table at Real Food Daily. Founder Ann Gentry was shocked—she hadn’t spent a penny on advertising. But the overwhelming response shouldn’t have been all that surprising, since Ann had spent the past four years gaining a following through home delivery of her gourmet vegan cuisine––when she wasn’t busy working as Danny Devito's personal chef, that is. Ann's meat-free fare struck a chord with the opening-day crowd, which merely foreshadowed the hordes that would descend upon Real Food Daily across the next 20 years. Today, she and her staff still craft healthy meals by making almost all of the food in-house without refined sugars, white flours, preservatives, or microwaves—the kitchens don’t even have them. 90% of ingredients––including fresh veggies, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits––hail from local, organic-certified farms, adding homegrown flavor to dishes such as kung pao tempeh, seitan tacos, and black-bean burgers. Today, Ann's eats can be found at three Real Food Daily locations, and the chef regularly brings some of her innovative dishes to The Today Show, The Talk, Vegetarian Times, and VegNews.
Beyond creating taste-good, feel-good food, Ann’s practices also lend themselves to sustainability. The West Hollywood location sports recycled-teak wood on table- and countertops, and the staff at all three of her certified green eateries compost kitchen scraps and package food in to-go containers, which are designed to biodegrade like a witch in the rain.
The original Beard Papa’s began filling the airs of Osaka, Japan, with the warm, wafting smells of its original-recipe cream puffs. A double-layer puff featuring piecrust on the outside and a mixture of vanilla custard cream and whipped cream on the inside, the successful little treats have led the bakery to expand to more than 300 locations throughout Southeast Asia, Russia, the United States, and the moon. The venerable bakery has also graduated to other pint-size desserts and Asian-influenced treats, including mochi ice cream and mango ice showers, a fusion of shaved ice, layered sweet sauce, and mango chunks.
FrozziYo’s frosty peaks of kosher frozen yogurt disguise their digestion-friendly probiotics with a deceptively creamy, luxurious texture. Customers self-serve spirals of flavor, including plain, blueberry, and chocolate yogurt, and crown their treats like heirs to a dairy-farm fortune with fresh toppings of fruit and candy.
redwhite+bluezz, a nightly confluence of wine, contemporary American cuisine, and live jazz music, won the Best Live Music Club and Best Wine Selection awards from Pasadena Weekly in 2011. Divided into The Grill and The Vintage Room, the decorated eatery fuels feasts with a menu of grilled beef, seafood, and chicken dishes alongside platters of artisan cow, sheep, and goat cheeses and trays covered in charcuterie, some cured in-house. Seasoned sommelier Russ Meek complements the eats by crafting his signature flight menus, which offer pairing suggestions from the expansive wine list, 40 of which are available by the glass. Sounds of humming horns, rattling drums, and strumming guitars reverberate in the jazz club, where heralded local musicians perform every night and during Sunday brunch. Dedicated to enriching entertainment, redwhite+bluezz hosts a slew of monthly events, including 90-minute flight school sessions that document the history, background, and embarrassing middle school stories of local wines.
Devan and Reena Shah, and Tek Mehreteab are passionate about tea. By sourcing leaves from eight regions in India, China, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Japan, they are able to proffer more than 300 standard and specialty varieties online and inside Chado Tea Room. The name Chado, taken from the Chinese cha, meaning "tea," and the Japanese do, meaning "path," speaks to the owners’ strict standards for their product. Many of their green, black, white, and oolong teas are USDA-certified organic; the Shahs also stock unique varieties such as Chinese pu-er teas and hand-tied blooming tea balls. In addition, they brew special house blends for morning, afternoon, and evening, helping customers find the right blend to start the day or serve to bats that have invaded their home.
Staffers pair teas with an array of cream-topped scones, cookies, cakes, and roasted savory sandwiches during teatime at Chado's three tearooms. Though each location is decorated differently, the same three-tiered sandwich platters and steaming pots of tea travel between panda paintings hanging in the Los Angeles location, underneath strings of holiday lights at the Pasadena location, and between ceiling-high wooden shelves stocked with mugs, filters, teapots, and bags of loose-leaf tea at the Hollywood location.
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.