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.
Melding their Japanese art of sushi with traditional Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, Sumiko Sushi delights palates with familiar flavors and unusual pairings. Pho tops the southeast asian offerings, pairing hearty beef broth with such fillings as sliced beef, meatballs, and shrimp. Innovative sushi rolls accompany sashimi with grilled meats and vegetables, eschewing rice for more unusual wrappings such as cucumber, vermicelli, and ghost rice.
Like many creative endeavors, the Togo's story started with a college student's empty stomach and equally empty pockets. In 1971, that college student decided to take action, opening a small sandwich shack near San Jose State University. Here's where the Togo's story switches gears from a tale of hunger to one of milestone after milestone. So popular was the sandwich shack that, much like the disco flash mobs sweeping the nation at the time, it earned a loyal following. In 1974, fueled by that support, a second location opened. Just over a decade later, in 1985, Togo's reached 100 locations.
Today, with locations peppered across the West Coast, Togo's continues to feed its ever-growing faction of fans with freshly prepped, wholesome meals. On Togo's menu, the corresponding nutritional information accompanies hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and wraps. And to keep things interesting, the chain runs quirky promotions throughout the year, such as the Pastrami Pounder Challenge, which started in 2012 and dares individuals to take down a 2-foot sandwich within 30 minutes.
At The Novel Cafe Pasadena, chefs specialize in quintessential American comfort food with a gourmet twist. The menu includes tuna nicoise salads, eggplant parmesan sandwiches, and other lighter dishes. You’ll also find heartier fare, including barbecue back ribs and clams with linguine, as well as dishes rife with locally grown produce. The on-site coffee shop stocks more than 15 varieties of organic teas, in addition to organic coffee beans and espresso. The baristas also serve freshly squeezed juices and extra-squeeze hugs. The café also hosts regular performances from local singer-songwriters and jazz musicians, which you can enjoy while sipping on a glass of wine.
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.