When Stuart Davis opened the first City Wok in North Hollywood in 1990, he had already been honing the restaurant’s concept for three years. He envisioned a stylish, casual restaurant where chefs created fresh, healthy versions of authentic Chinese dishes to order in an open kitchen. The problem? Davis lacked a background in traditional Chinese cooking. Enter Hing Fan Chan, a professional chef trained in Kowloon, China. “It was a 50-50 collaboration,” Davis told Restaurant Hospitality magazine in 2003: Chan brought traditional recipes to City Wok, and worked with Davis to create healthy, MSG-free versions of authentic dishes. Their collaboration paid off: in 2011, City Wok earned Palm Springs Life’s award for the area’s Best Chinese Restaurant.
Today, flames surge as chefs tend woks in chrome-lined open kitchens. In the dining room, customers relax as they wait for servers to arrive with dishes such as a spicy kung pao combo or house lo mein. A breakfast menu features creative wok scrambles and moo shoo burritos, bringing Chinese flavors to morning meals without the hassle of stealing a Concorde.
In the summer of 1971, the streets of Mexico City were teeming with farmers selling their crops and produce and students protesting government edicts. Under the canopy of a market grill, a young Jeremy Kravitz feasted on juicy carnitas in a lightly grilled corn tortilla as his parents navigated the crowd, picking up groceries. Born and raised in Mexico, he and his family emigrated to the United States in 1972, and Kravitz re-creates the hospitality and food of his native country as the owner of Los Pueblos.
The successor to Chilango's Mexico City Grill, Los Pueblos has a menu rooted in a deep love of Mexico. Along with colorful, abstract paintings, images of Mexican life ornament the restaurant's wall, depicting scenes such as farmers growing fresh burritos from the soil. Sauces and marinades at the salsa bar bear each region's traditional flavors and ingredients, and chefs strive to keep every dish authentic.
After graduating from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in London with a Grand Diplôme, Colin MacLaggan honed his skills in London, Colorado, and California. As Ave 5 Restaurant & Bar's executive chef, he applies his culinary training toward creating three-component dishes of modern American cuisine. His critically acclaimed menu rotates monthly in order to feature locally grown ingredients and meats that have been sustainably farmed and harvested. Craft beer and global wines complement MacLaggan's dishes, as do specialty cocktails, which barkeepers craft with housemade tonics, fruit-infused syrups, and glasses plucked from trees. Each feast commences in Ave 5's intimate atmosphere, which draws an artistic vibe from down-tempo lounge music as well as paintings, framed photos, and exposed brick.
In 2008, Guy Fieri proclaimed that the German-born owners of Crazee Burger would ?make a burger out of just about anything? on the Food Network?s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Four years have passed, but Guy?s claim still holds true at Crazee Burger, which marries American?s favorite staple food to the atmosphere of a European bistro. The eccentric menu does include some familiar patties, crafted from premium Angus beef or veggies, but also forays into the unusual with burgers made of wild boar, camel, and even ostrich and kangaroo. Imported beers and wine from Spain and Italy, as well as brews from the United States, wash down burgers or bratwursts and make it easier to forget about your childhood pet, a wild boar.
A façade of salmon and tawny stone ringed with palm trees beckons to passersby, hinting at the tropical dishes of shrimp, roast pork, and fried plantains contained inside. Like an edible cruise ship, the bill of fare takes diners on a culinary tour of the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, with dishes of slow-cooked shredded beef, saffron-tinged rice, marinated chicken, and sautéed fresh fish. A canopy of leafy palms surrounds private banquets or nightly dinner guests as they finish things off with a dessert of flan or guava empanadas. Next door, an international Latin marketplace invites patrons to create their own tropical feasts at home with hard-to-find grocery items from countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.
In 2003, The Gulli family opened their first restaurant, Mr. Kabob Mediterranean Cuisine, next to their Detroit gas station, and by 2004, they had already earned a coveted spot in the Detroit Free Press's Best of Detroit awards. By 2009, they were ready to share their fresh, fast-casual Mediterranean cuisine with diners in The Golden State by opening CK Grille with the same menu of savory shawarma, kebabs, stuffed grape leaves, and made-from-scratch soups that garnered attention from Fox 2 News. The health-conscious spot also squeezes fresh juices and mixes up refreshing smoothies made from milk, honey, and fresh fruit such as mango, guava, and snozzberries.