Sinful Bliss Cupcakes' swirly crowns of frosting rest on cushy thrones that flaunt their royalty in a wide range of flavors, from the stately red velvet to exotic Caribbean and coconut creations. Shop owner Tammie Parnell cultivates bite-size bliss with a gardener’s care, fertilizing her cupcake vines with rainbow sprinkles and plucking off miniatures to sell singly ($2) or in bushels of a dozen ($19). Regular-size cupcakes ($3.25 each; $29/dozen) team up with their diminutive brethren to fill the shop’s air with the scent of chocolate, raspberries, and peanut butter. Classic flavors such as vanilla, carrot cake, and rich, gluten-free chocolate provide pillows for nostalgic reveries, and a mini peanut-butter cup perches jauntily atop the chocolate-peanut-butter cupcake like the top hat on a master chef's head.
The husband-and-wife team at Shaadzee Bakery Bistro sates hearty appetites with a Mediterranean- and French-inspired menu of dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Morning diners can wake up with a quiche of the day served with a cup of fresh fruit ($9.45), or reenact historical sieges with a small battlecade of french toast under attack by caramel apples, raisins and walnuts ($9.95). For lunch, chicken kebabs cozy up to romaine, feta, tomatoes, and cucumbers in the persian chicken kebab salad ($11.95); vegetarians can nosh on a plate of the frittata-like kookoo sabzi ($9.95). Shaadzee's fresh selection of baked goods ise crafted fresh daily from top-flight ingredients.
Nama Sushi is named for its wide-ranging list of handmade sushi, but the restaurant's chefs also craft steamy dinnertime feasts featuring nutritious buckwheat noodles, crispy tempura vegetables, and teriyaki specialties. The team whips up seafood-filled udon soups, grills barbecue short ribs, deep-fries pork cutlets, and tosses chicken in spicy sauce. For diversified meals, they pile Japanese goodies onto combination dinners served with mixed tempura, miso salad, and rice.
In its early years, Magoo's Grill was, in its staff's own words, a "nondescript local watering hole." Twenty-five years later, the entrance twinkles with holiday lights, welcoming guests into an open space with dark-wood floors and deep, cozy booths. The kitchen staff hand crafts half-pound burgers, sealing in their juices by broiling them over an open flame. To make Magoo's signature sandwiches, chefs also grill chicken breasts and tri-tip steaks, which get topped with cheese or applewood-smoked bacon. Meals can be paired with a selection of microbrews or specialty drinks, such as Magoo's melon margarita, made with melon liqueur and lime juice.
At Mango Star, patrons can lounge on an outdoor patio while sipping sugary bubble teas, fruit-packed smoothies, and thin, flavorful crepes from a menu that overflows with coffee and café fare. Apply $6 per visit toward hot or cold blended tea ($2.75–$3.75), in flavors such as honeydew, jasmine green, and passion fruit, served with optional tapioca pearls freshly plucked from the mouths of seaside tapioca mollusks. Airborne forks can rip open savory crêpes with gusto, revealing chicken, tomato, pesto, and cheese ($5.95), or gourmet avocado, mushroom, onion, tomato, olives, and cheese ($5.25). Sweet crêpes arrive crowned with powdered sugar and whipped cream and boasting coats of strawberry nutella ($5.25), peach and ice cream ($5.95), and the sweet and tart trifecta of strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry ($6.50). Free WiFi and an outdoor patio let patrons browse favorite dog-fashion blogs while sipping espresso ($2.75+) and gourmet coffee ($1.50–$1.75).
The appetizer list at Bravo Bistro touts a world of choices, almost literally. Fresh ahi tuna with crunchy wontons sits just beneath salmon carpaccio, giving way to shrimp and scallop ceviche and pomme frites drizzled in truffle oil. The international influence stems from owner and chef Habib El Jacifi, who learned to execute French, Spanish, and Mediterranean recipes growing up in Casablanca, Morocco. Contra Costa Times reviewer Ann Tatko-Peterson had admired Habib’s work at his first restaurant, Fiore, and a visit to Bravo inspired her to gush that the bistro is "proof that experience can lead to perfection.” According to Ann, diners might be loath to efface artfully presented dishes such as gamberi with tiger shrimp and crab, but in doing so will taste a creamy parmesan she likened to the best sauces from Italy. The menu’s entrees are mostly Italian, but patrons will notice subtly multicultural accents such as the apple chutney that sweetens the pork chops or the saffron sauce and caramelized onions that crown the oven-roasted chicken. Sunday brunch furthers the gastronomic globetrotting as diners trek through a prix fixe menu that has featured croissants, chicken penne pesto, quiche, and braised beef stew.