At the center of a big, round table sits a lazy susan bearing tiny, elegant white dishes. Each holds a mound of intriguing dried leaves that look as though they’ve been emptied from an alchemist’s vial. Over the course of the evening, everyone around the table will watch, smell, and taste as the power of those leaves is awakened through hot water and the deep knowledge shared by Roberta, Experience Tea’s owner. A certified tea specialist, she leads classes on a vast range of tea topics, exploring everything from health benefits to proper steeping techniques to the etiquette of Chinese tea ceremonies or British-tea hot tubs. Within a warmly lit storefront lined by painted brick walls and a veritable library of tea varieties, students can also learn how to create their own signature brew in blending workshops. Even customers who stop in for a pouch of loose-leaf are likely to end up indulging in a rich sensory experience as Roberta offers them a sample and shares tasting notes.
While undergoing spa training in Taiwan, Spa Chi’s owner Catherine Lee was inspired by ancient Chinese principles. It motivated her to create a special place where the entire family could relax and rejuvenate. That’s why Spa Chi combines its spa with a café, art store, and garden all in one location—while one person is enjoying a pampering massage, facial, or paraffin dip, the rest of the family or group can eat Taiwanese-style dishes at the café, take a paper-clay class, or simply enjoy the outdoor asian garden. In keeping with her goals to provide each client with beauty regimens designed for individual healing, relief, and beauty, Catherine frequently journeys to Taiwan for continued spa training. She's even approaching 30 years of experience, the equivalent of 7.5 bachelors' degrees or one PhD in quantum mechanics.
The culinary artisans at Pacific Coast pair high-quality ingredients with freshly made sweet and savory recipes. The café menu boasts breakfast all day, serving three-egg omelets with bacon or sausage and toast ($7.95) alongside build-your-own sandwiches, allowing picky eaters to festoon their own comestibles from a range of doughy breads, piquant cheeses, and approval-seeking meats ($7.95). Plop down with a quick indulgence from Pacific Coast’s selection of breads and fresh pastries, and pair a gourmet cupcake ($2.00), specialty brownie ($3.50), or lemon-raspberry muffin ($2.50) with an organic, fair-trade cup of Caffe Vita cappuccino. Pacific Coast’s warm red walls and plush booth seating create an ideal atmosphere for solo relaxation, chatting with groups of friends, or quietly counting down the hours until Earth’s much-anticipated polar switch.
Although it can't grant the power of flight or x-ray vision, açaí is still considered something of a super food. The fruit comes directly from the Brazilian rainforest and delivers loads of antioxidants, healthy omegas, and fiber to anyone who consumes it or sticks it into their ears. At Kitanda, açaí is just one of the many organic ingredients featured in a menu of healthy eats. The family-owned shop specializes in a wide range Brazilian snacks and drinks, including gluten-free breads and gourmet coffee brewed from 100-percent Brazilian beans.
Regent Bakery & Cafe's authentic Chinese flavors couldn't be contained to just one meal. The restaurant started as a bakery specializing in Chinese pastries and cakes. As its popularity grew, so too did its menu—the staff began serving beef-stew and salted-fish hot pies, roast duck, and ma-pao tofu. Regent Bakery & Cafe now sports two full locations; the newest features a full bar that mixes up a selection of adult beverages and bubble teas, served inside a restaurant whose modern decor is lit by chandeliers and neon track lighting.