While their little ones splash away during swimming lessons at Milpitas Star Aquatics and Fitness Center, parents find respite amid the cool blues and whites of Cafe Aqua. Sitting at glossy white tables, they fill their bellies with sandwiches and smoothies or cool off with a fruity-flavored shaved ice. A glass wall stands between the café and the pool, so parents can watch lessons in progress or pretend to judge their kids' cannonball contests.
The original Beard Papa?s began filling the airs of Osaka, Japan, with the warm, wafting smells of its original-recipe cream puffs. A double-layer puff featuring piecrust on the outside and a mixture of vanilla custard cream and whipped cream on the inside, the successful little treats have led the bakery to expand to more than 300 locations throughout Southeast Asia, Russia, the United States, and the moon. The venerable bakery has also graduated to other pint-size desserts and Asian-influenced treats.
Kopitiam––which means "coffee shop" in Chinese dialect––began cropping up across Singapore in the early 1900s as a way for Chinese immigrants to sell tea and coffee. Still seen across Singapore and Malaysia, these cafés have evolved to serve food items such as spicy noodle laksa and nasi-rice curries. Kopitiam Cafe—a member of the Milpitas Chamber of Commerce—serves up these same dishes for the edification of the American palate.
In the glow of cylindrical hanging lanterns and floor-to-ceiling windows, baristas steep hot teas, tamp espresso drinks, sink miniature gelatin pearls into fruit and cream–based bubble teas, and serve up Hawaiian shaved ice and fresh-fruit smoothies. After nestling into a modern red or white café chair, guests can impress taste buds by feeding them housemade wonton noodles or impress a barista by spinning a smoothie so quickly that it transforms back into actual fruit.
The baristas of The Coffee Adventure Company top cups off with three types of java bought directly from producers and whet appetites with a menu of breakfast classics, grilled paninis, pastries, and Filipino dishes. Patrons can kick-start brains with fresh Filipino coffee, warming their hands on an 8-ounce ($1.65), 12-ounce ($1.85), or 16-ounce cup ($1.95) of imported joe before diving into the breakfast menu, dished out until 11 a.m. Savory classics such as an egg-cradling breakfast muffin can arrive bare or shrouded in a blanket of bacon or ham ($2.19–$2.95), and traditional silog plates bundle zesty meats such as adobo chicken or tocino pork with zucchini, eggs, rice, and a complimentary cup of coffee or tea ($6.99). Lunch-inclined diners chomp on paninis such as the tuna artichoke with provolone cheese, made powerful by a surfeit of sacrificial artichoke hearts ($5.95), or the grilled Adobo Salvador pan de sal, whose seasoned chicken rides a vessel of spanish round bread to bear its grizzled wisdom on taste buds that ignore history's lessons ($5.95 for two pieces).
Produce Spot specializes in fresh fruits and vegetables grown on local farms. The hearty sustenance shack boasts a huge variety of organic vegetables and fruits including juicy gala apples, adorable baby bok choy, and pleasantly plump avocados ($1.45–$5.99/lb.). Conventional fruits and veggies such as grapefruits and artichokes provide all the ingredients for a perfect grapefruit-and-artichoke salad ($0.55–$1.99/lb.). Water your lactose tree with a fine selection of conventional and organic dairy products ($0.99–$6.75). Melt-in-your-mouth sweet breads and croissants are consistently worthy morning treats, fueling an entire day's worth of procrastination ($3.25–$3.85). Ready-made salad and sautéed veggie dishes are also available for busy chefs and imposter restaurateurs.
From its humble beginnings in a catering truck, Lee's Sandwiches has flourished into more than three dozen sandwich shops serving more than 33 European- and Asian-inspired sandwiches. A 10-inch baguette clamps down tighter than a grandma lobster's pinch around 16 Asian-style fillings, from barbecue pork and sardines to layers of jambon, headcheese, and pate. With European sandwiches, customers can cart ingredients from plate to mouth on a croissant or a 10-inch baguette. Tuna almond bursts with tandem flavor; veggie avocado sates lighter appetites; and the BLT presents a feast as American as synchronized swimming to the national anthem. Patrons can cure parched pouts with an iced coffee or a smoothie concocted from more than two dozen flavors, including strawberry, avocado, caramel, and lychee.