In 1947, owners Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs assembled a staff of 14 carhops to serve passing motorists at the first Mel's Drive-In. For the next two decades, customers partial to automobile dining flocked to the chain’s 11 California locations, eager to wash down grass-fed half-pound burgers with thick milk shakes. As fast-food outlets outpaced the drive-in's once-speedy service, its popularity declined, and it was eventually scheduled for demolition. The building got a temporary reprieve, however, when filmmaker George Lucas decided to use the drive-in's original location on Lombard Street as the colorful backdrop for his film American Graffiti. As bulldozers destroyed the last remnants of the historic drive-in, American Graffiti opened in theaters.
A decade later, though, Mel's son Steven reopened Mel's Drive-In in an attempt to carry on his father's dream. Steven restored the drive-in's multiple locations to mirror their original motif by stocking each with midcentury must-haves such as illuminated marquees, jukeboxes, and Elvis-themed WiFi passwords. The drive-in’s menu, meanwhile, balances period-appropriate fare, such as hot dogs and burgers, with healthy options, such as the Haven’s Famous vegetarian sandwich, two slices of nine-grain bread topped with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes.
In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 13 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day lava-powered ovens warm up batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, pecan praline, and white-chocolate raspberry remain constants on the menu, and a new flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all frosted with a signature blend of cream cheese and butter.
Each Nothing Bundt Cakes location also houses its own stock of gifts. Patrons may come across the brightly hued handle of a confetti cake knife or opt to take home an old-fashioned tin, perfect for stowing coffee and imprisoning gingerbread men who have tried to run away. Contact the location of your choice for gift pricing and availability.
Dr. Isaac Kashani didn’t always know he was going to be a dentist, but looking back at his upbringing, you’d think he was born for it. By age 15, Dr. Kashani was already combining his intelligence and superior manual dexterity in junior-college classes and auto-mechanics courses that he took in addition to a full schedule of high-school classes. Now, his years of experience and obsession with perfecting even the smallest details manifest themselves in a full menu of cosmetic and restorative dental services. Additionally, patients at Lasting Impressions can benefit from the work of Dr. Kashani's colleague, Dr. Sargon Lazarof, who invented the same-day implant.
During treatments, high-magnification optics and high-power microscopes guide the doctors' hands to the millimeter as they seek out the deepest cavities while continually devoting themselves to comforting patients. The staff also dotes on clients with spa amenities that include hydrating paraffin hand waxes and sugar-free reading material.
Itzik Hagadol Grill has two locations, one in Encino, California, and the original in Jaffa, Israel. Despite being separated from its sister restaurant by an ocean and three in-flight movies, the American eatery still embraces the characteristic flavors and ingredients of Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine, earning a rating of "good to very good" from Zagat. The kitchen's taboon oven bakes fresh laffa bread as the cooks carefully arrange more than 20 kinds of Middle Eastern salads, which garnered praise from the Los Angeles Times in 2009 for their vibrancy and variety. Grills further heat up the kitchen by searing kebabs of house-ground veal and lamb as well as skewers of less common meats, including foie gras, chicken liver, and veal sweetbreads. The warmth forged in the culinary crucible that is the kitchen emanates outward to the dining area, where padded booths stimulate comfort and conviviality.
The brainchild of sisters-in-law Shelly and Quinn Pennington, Buttercelli Bakeshop pleases sweet teeth and nourishes bodies with the dulcet tastes of oven-fresh, organic baked goods and piping-hot java. By welding together Shelly's mercantile savvy and Quinn's background in biochemistry, the pair devised a bakery built around mouthwatering cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and muffins forged from organic ingredients without the artificial aid of preservatives, additives, or corn syrup. The gleaming glass-flanked counter excites both eyes and palates with plates of cupcakes crowned with dollops of creamy frosting, cakes emblazoned with custom decorations, and dessert bars decked in colorful layers of jam. Coffee and espresso keep sweet notes company among the café's tempting cake displays and dark-hardwood floors. Meanwhile, convenient curbside pickup allows party planners and picnic-table racers alike to fetch desserts while on the go.
The Hummus Bar & Grill channels the flavors and spirit of Tel Aviv with authentic offerings of steaming, hot pitas and succulent grill-kissed skewers served in a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere. Diners can request a side of hot pita baked on location to scoop up israeli salad, which, like a lion tamer's living will, is made fresh every day. High-quality meats, including gourmet offerings such as chicken schnitzel and foie gras, are lovingly speared onto grilled skewers, and vegetarians can enjoy fire-kissed portobello mushrooms. A robust kosher menu includes homestyle dishes such as chicken-thigh steak and a special of the day. Guests can top off their meals with a turkish coffee and watch as the sun goes down and the dining room quickly fills with carefree ambiance as fellow diners clink glasses of Italian or Israeli wines against beers imported from Belgium, Holland, and England.