The bread pans and baking trays begin clattering early at Cinnamon Productions, announcing the bakers’ 4 a.m. arrival. It’s during these hours before dawn that the bakery’s team brings everything from sandwich bread to signature cinnamon rolls, which they pepper with actual ground cinnamon, to golden brown fruition. Once out of the oven, the freshly made goods crowd the eatery’s display case, tempting patrons to pair them with cups of coffee, scrambled eggs, or one of seven gourmet sandwiches. Every now and then, one of the staffers will pluck a few of the fresh cinnamon rolls to create a catering order, gift basket, or convincing Princess Leia headpiece.
Perk up your ears upon entering The Shore’s sleek, dimly lit dining room, and you’ll make out a variety of sounds. Frying pans crackle and hiss in the kitchen as chefs whip up Louisiana-style shrimp ‘n’ grits and Guinness-braised short ribs, as well as other contemporary American dishes lauded by reporters from San Clemente Journal.
Out by the backlit bar, the air resounds with the tinkle of ice and the pop of corks as bartenders blend specialty cocktails and dole out glasses of wine and beer. Meanwhile, five flat-screen televisions hum with the voices of sportscasters who comment on games and praise the timeless appeal of referee uniforms. On the weekends, the eatery features live musicians who send guitar melodies and drumbeats echoing across the dining room’s cushy black banquettes and intimate tabletops.
For three generations and counting, the Jimenez family has welcomed guests to El Mariachi Restaurant. There they prepare plates chock-full of traditional Mexican cuisine and house specialties infused with the flavors of cilantro, lime, and jalape?os. The molcajete showcases a mound of carne asada, shrimp, and grilled cactus served in a stone bowl, and the grilled salmon is doused in a bright sauce made from tequila and lime.
However, the restaurant also gives diners a feast for the eyes. The eatery is awash in hand-painted murals of life in Mexico, which sprawl across virtually every inch of wall space that's not already covered by gleaming wood paneling. Carved wood pillars support the roof when its psychiatrist isn't available, and strings of holiday lights reflect off stained-glass windows, making them glimmer with life.
Miki Izumisawa, the chef behind Laguna Beach sushi restaurant 242 Cafe Fusion Sushi, joined forces with Kauai native Bud Miyamoto to create the menu of fusion sushi and Hawaiian cuisine served at Pokē + Roll 808. The eatery's cooks slice fresh salmon and whitefish to roll with ingredients such as shredded purple cabbage, macadamia nuts, and spicy olive oil, and dice ahi tuna for Hawaiian-style poke plates with rice or greens. Wash back the fresh, flavorful food with beer from Kona Brewing Company. The restaurant is open for dine-in and take-out at lunch and dinner.
In addition to classic curries and traditional noodle dishes, the chefs at Little Thai Hut serve up creative specials and sweet desserts. Some of the kitchen's inventive entrees include the volcano chicken, an upright Cornish game hen set aflame to seal in its juices, and crying tiger, a marinated cut of charbroiled prime beef. Steaming hot pot soups come spiked with ingredients such as coconut milk, seafood, or glass noodles.
The chefs at Rice Temptation roll the restaurant's namesake ingredient into maki, stir-fry it with fresh, organic veggies, or serve it alongside bowls of teriyaki meats. They also prepare Thai and Japanese noodle dishes, such as udon soup and drunken noodles, which may be ordered as mild or as fiery as you desire.