Over the past four decades, Starbucks has bloomed from a single coffee shop in Seattle's Pike Place Market to more than 17,000 stores responsible for caffeinating 55 countries. The company’s smiling, green-aproned baristas have become the mascots of many people’s morning routine, pouring cups of dark, medium, and blonde roast for coffee purists and adding shots of caramel or white chocolate to more elaborate espresso creations and treats such as a Frappuccino blended beverage.
Concerned with more than flavour, Starbucks strives to fill its menu with responsibly sourced coffee, cocoa, and tea that protect the farmers and bioregions they come from. These efforts have earned the company a spot on Ethisphere's 2013 list of the world's most ethical companies.
Winner of San Diego Living’s Pasta Wars, Pastalini enables marinara guzzlers to choose from a variety of tempting ingredients and forge phenomenal pasta, pizza, or salad recipes specially tailored to individual tastes. Noodle buffs can sculpt a specialized pasta bowl ($6.39) by fusing flavors such as rigatoni, pesto, and grilled chicken topped with spinach and black olives or prep alfredo-doused grilled shrimp and english peas for seafood prom with a helping of elegant bowtie pasta.
Once known as Da Kitchen and Mo’s Island Grinds, Homestyle Hawaiian keeps the home-cooked tradition alive, infusing fresh island fare with the familiar flavors of down-home cooking. A menu fit for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert features combo plates stacked with Hawaiian classics, such as meat jhun and kalua pig, which refuel diners hungered from long days of shooting ex-boyfriends' furniture out of a cannon, and bites laden with other Asian flavors, including Korean-style chicken. The kitchen crew ends hearty meals with Hawaiian shaved ice and four types of crème brûlée, including toasted coconut and bananas foster.
Located in a nondescript strip mall in Serra Mesa, Little Sam’s Pizza serves up hearty New York style pizzas with a classic feel, including red and white checkered tiles that line the floor and a smattering of simple tables that fill out the humble interior. Don’t let the downplayed décor fool, though; Little Sam’s makes a delicious pizza worthy of its local popularity. Each pie is hand-tossed from dough that is made daily, topped with a light spread of tomato sauce and any combination of fresh ingredients. They also serve pizza by the slice, making it a great spot to grab a quick lunch, especially when it comes to the thin, flexible hand-tossed New York style slices, which are easily folded over and topped off with shakers of oregano, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. The large surrounding parking lot makes a visit or pick-up easy; they deliver as well.
Located on Sandrock Road in Serra Mesa, San Diego Sandwich Co. is a stripped-to-basics shop serving up hearty subs. They have a large selection of bread that is delivered fresh every morning. This family-owned shop is a comfortable and convenient lunch stop and is kept tidy with almost a dozen tables. The sandwiches have large helpings of fresh meats and vegetables, with finishing touches hard to find at fast-food alternatives. The classic Italian combo of capicola, genoa salami and mortadella, is a popular favorite amongst patrons, though they also have an impressive selection of sides, which includes salads, soups and Granny Lou’s Homemade Chili.
The recipes at Mignon Pho + Grill are always evolving, both in Kearny Mesa and in Ho Chi Minh, where the owners' family still runs a shop. Part of the secret is the bone marrow that they steep with their broth; another is a menu that lets diners choose up to three main ingredients.