After bringing menus to each table, servers ask if anyone would like to sign a waiver. Without endorsing one of these forms, diners can't order the devil's chicken or vegetables, two formidable entrees made with fiery ghost chilies.
On request, chefs can tone down the heat of various entrees, which combine the culinary traditions of India and China. Relying on locally sourced ingredients when possible, cooks prepare each dish for family-style serving, which encourages diners to split piles of poultry with visiting friends or every member of the Channel 5 news team. Though braised beef and sautéed chicken are prominent on the menu, the kitchen also creates vegetarian- and vegan-friendly dishes that rely on the same regional sauces for their piquant flavor.
On one side of the main dining room, red vinyl booths add a splash of color to the restaurant's sleek gray walls and modern décor. The restaurant's bar keeps tables full of libations, including craft beers and glasses of food-friendly wine from winemakers on both sides of the equator and the center of the Earth.
Candles nestled in chandeliers cast a flickering glow upon saffron-colored walls, exposed stonework, and iron accents. The light dimly illuminates the white tablecloths on the main dining floor and the overlooking mezzanine level, helping weave the aura of otherworldliness that Mythos's name suggests. Amid this visual backdrop, the aromas of West Coast and Mediterranean spices and sauces dance, hinting at the local seafood and produce that the chefs use in their menu. Taking advantage of the local bounty, the grill masters turn their eyes toward the culinary aesthetic of Greece as they braise lamb shanks, flame bathe house-ground burgers and 6-ounce skirt steaks, and sauté vegan plates.
Against a wall of windows, bartenders and stewards pair dishes with handpicked Northern Californian and Greek wines as well as 11 ouzos. They also mix cocktails from eclectic ingredients, such as vegetables pickled in-house and imported pomegranate juice, so diners don’t have to add Mediterranean authenticity by sifting their drinks through a Greek flag.
Founders Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz started Nothing Bundt Cakes in Las Vegas with the simple aim of making cakes for their families and friends. But thanks to their handcrafted recipes, pure ingredients, and innovative decorating ideas, their business soon grew from a small home kitchen to a franchise, with locations in 13 states.
The custom-designed cakes—made with fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese—arrive in flavors ranging from white chocolate raspberry to lemon and chocolate chocolate chip. Thick, frosted petals atop each cake showcase the signature velvety cream cheese–frosting, which must be eaten swiftly before it glides away on a summer breeze.
Since 1980, the Ramirez family has tapped into the flavors of its native Jalisco, a region in central Mexico, to fill the plates at La Hacienda. They banned lard from their kitchen and stocked it with lean meats to give each dish a heart-healthy edge. Regional specialties, such as meatball soup, share tables with steaks, fajitas, and enchiladas doused in completely vegetarian sauces. The restaurant is intimate, housing fewer than 10 tables and booths and no bleachers. Colorful papel picado banners brighten the space, which features walls are covered in eclectic Mexican artwork.
New Orleans is a city that lingers in the heart long after you leave. Chef Edwin Caba spent 18 years running restaurants in various cities, but it was the cuisine of New Orleans that stayed with him. In 1996, he helped to open CreoLa Bistro, where as executive chef he helms a menu of Cajun and Creole cuisine using seafood that comes in directly from the Louisiana gulf.
Piacere Restaurant's chef, Miriam Russel-Wadleigh, is dedicated to using only local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible. She's so dedicated, in fact, that in 2008 she posed the Farmer's Market Challenge—an open invitation for guests to bring two or more ingredients from local farmers' markets, which she transformed into custom two-course meals. But even when she isn't working her creative muscles, Miriam relies on locally grown produce and fresh meats. She combines these in iron skillets and a wood-burning oven to create dishes whose scope goes well beyond the local, often leaning into Southern Italy: lemon-marinated fish, mint-rubbed lamb steaks, and pizzas topped with wild-boar salami.
This freshness and international outlook extends beyond the food, drifting into the bar's handcrafted cocktails, which are made with all-natural ingredients, as well as selections from more than 2,000 bottles of rare varietals and boutique wines. These concoctions are best sipped on the sidewalk patio along the restaurant's blond-wood and cream-colored facade, where guests can fill up mason jars with fresh air for later.
Piacere's local focus encompasses the community as well as its foodstuffs. The restaurant uses its penchant for food and drink to benefit local charities such as the Ronald McDonald House and the American Liver Foundation. At one point, the restaurant even donated proceeds from three school-themed cocktails to the San Carlos Education Foundation.