Having lived in Ripon for two decades, Jake Parks had a good idea of what his hometown lacked: a warm, welcoming café where friends could sit and converse and commuters could stop in for lunch on the go. He took it upon himself to fill this empty niche, founding his eponymous café and basing its menu around premium drinks and gourmet sandwiches. Today, the first thing one notices when entering Jake’s Coffee, Tea and Sandwiches is the aroma of coffee, which starts brewing at 6 a.m. Jake and his team pride themselves on crafting a wide range of caffeinated drinks, from mochas flavored with Monin syrups to red-eye blends that keep customers awake as they attempt to set the world record for most dictionaries read in one sitting. The shop’s many blends of tea, available hot or iced, pair nicely with freshly baked pastries and a selection of savory wraps and paninis that incorporate the shop’s signature cream-cheese pesto spread.
Mountain Mike’s Pizza keeps belly bearings well lubricated with its selection of topping-laden pizzas, oven-kissed sandwiches, and more. Like a fleet-footed yeti, Mountain Mike’s Pizza's menu deftly scales rocky heights with its selection of mountain-themed specialty pizzas, such as the 12-inch Everest and Snowy Alps pizzas, each stacked with a savory selection of Old World pepperoni, onion, olives, and more ($17.99). With two types of crust, four sauces, and 26 toppings, diners can craft their own perfect pies.
The cooks at Velvet Grill & Creamery understand the timelessness of classic diner fare and a cold scoop of ice cream. All day long, they make breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes from scratch and churn out fresh batches of more than 20 ice-cream flavors. Breakfast seekers satisfy savory cravings with three-egg omelets stuffed with ingredients such as avocado, crab, linguiça, and feta cheese. Sweet teeth tear into Velvet's original pancakes, made with real oatmeal and buttermilk from a special house recipe. Later-day options include classic comfort fare such as chicken-fried steak and smoked pork chops doused with an apricot glaze. Among the sandwich selection, the house-special mega grilled cheese ($7.39) combines four kinds of melted, gooey cheese between three slices of bread to form a meal hefty enough to knock over Mechagodzilla should he return from his semester abroad in Prague. Diners can also lap up the eatery's rotating selection of homemade ice creams, which were spotlighted in the Lodi News-Sentinel for their incorporation of such unconventional ingredients as wine and butternut squash. Customers can also suggest new flavors and request special batches, which in the past have included licorice, bacon, and the sweet, sweet taste of victory over chinese finger traps.
When the trio of Jenna Harvey, Ryan Woods, and Steffen Haro graduated from UC Davis, they decided to create their own jobs. "It's not in our character to throw up our hands and say, 'Well, we tried,'" Harvey says as she remembers doggedly planning a 400-square-foot shaved-ice shack with Woods and Haro. Their dream quickly evolved into a shop nearly five times as large, complete with an espresso bar, a kettle-corn popper, and a drive-thru window. Named Pura Vida for the Costa Rican phrase that captivated Harvey during a charitable trip in 2007?"Though it translates as 'pure life,' locals said they use it as 'live pure,' and we liked what it stood for"?the affable staff douses fluffy curls of ice with sweet fruits, puckery sours, and an array of sugar-free flavors accented with marshmallow topping or ice cream in the middle. Hot and iced coffees, which Pura Vida hopes to someday source directly from Costa Rica, enliven palates in between bites of kettle corn, which pop from whole-grain kernels. As soft music floats through the red-walled storefront, free WiFi ricochets across the hand-built bamboo counter and onto patio tables perched beneath a shady pitched awning.
As the vibrant, swirling skirts of belly dancers entrance patrons' eyes, Skewers' chefs slice up lamb, filet mignon, chicken, and salmon for the restaurant’s namesake kebabs. To sate carnivorous cravings, their flavorful meats—which are marinated for 48 to 72 hours in tangy Mediterranean spices and oils—are roasted over the open flame of a stove or a snoring baby dragon. Bartenders craft potent martinis and pour international wines that complement both the punchy flavors of the kebabs and the plumes of sweet, aromatic smoke that dance through the hookah garden. On select nights, the kebab house brims with the catchy beats of live jazz bands, late-night DJs, and brave karaoke performers, and belly dancers take center stage with their sensuous dance moves on Saturday evenings.
The cooks at Sips Bistro and Wine Shop use locally acquired and organic ingredients where possible in their classic menu of small plates, varietals, and espresso drinks. The intimate bistro setting—rendered warm by colorful murals of pastoral settings and elegant wood wine racks—hosts guests as they try refined eats such as a chicken, brie, and caramelized onion quesadilla, or a brined and herb-crusted bone-in pork chop. During wine flights, vino sippers may choose their own drinks from a temperature-controlled wine bar or the frigid palms of a grape-eating sprite. The company also occasionally hosts events such as champagne Sundays and special tastings.