Ask Lourdes Limon why her raspados taste so good. She'll say, "Por que los hice con amor"?"Because they're made with love." Now that her sons have taken over the family business, they use the same secret ingredient, but they've added a few new specialties. Supplementing the shaved ice treats that give them their name are freshly squeezed juices, chili-imbued slush-drinks, and healthy fruit salads. But the raspados remain the main event. Flavors include exotic fruit such as guava, tamarind, kiwi, and jamaica, as well as more decadent flavors such as caramel, egg nog, cookies and cream, and plain water.
As visitors devour spoonfuls of sweet, creamy frozen treats at Menchie’s, they may notice a string of ’90s-era sitcom stars arriving to sample the wares and chat with the man in charge. That’s because owner/operator David Lipper first made a name for himself on Full House playing D.J. Tanner’s boyfriend Viper. Today, Lipper proudly sits atop a local frozen-yogurt empire, edging out his fellow cast mates’ enterprises, including Dave Coulier’s network of Swiss banks and John Stamos’s ’50s-themed doggy daycare. Inside the shop, diners select from a colorful array of flavors, such as low-carb pistachio or fruity watermelon tart, and crown their creation with toppings including sprinkles, mocha, hot fudge, and locally grown fruits.
Blends Soft Serve Creations sets their frozen treats apart and puts the power of invention in the hands of the people by offering them the chance to blend individual flavors into their own new creation. Patrons can choose a base of ice cream or frozen yogurt or opt for a smoothie or fruit-juice freeze to sip through a straw. Next, they can infuse the treat with one or a combination of 30 available flavors, including watermelon, cinnamon spice, and peach, and top it off with candy and fruit mix-ins. Blends also lists its recommendations for tasty treats that have passed flavor-quality and brain-freeze-probability tests, including cake-batter ice cream topped with vanilla-wafer crumbles and sprinkles, and fruit punch with cherry and orange flavors, highlighted by cherry, strawberry, and raspberry mix-ins.
Devan and Reena Shah, and Tek Mehreteab are passionate about tea. By sourcing leaves from eight regions in India, China, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Japan, they are able to proffer more than 300 standard and specialty varieties online and inside Chado Tea Room. The name Chado, taken from the Chinese cha, meaning "tea," and the Japanese do, meaning "path," speaks to the owners’ strict standards for their product. Many of their green, black, white, and oolong teas are USDA-certified organic; the Shahs also stock unique varieties such as Chinese pu-er teas and hand-tied blooming tea balls. In addition, they brew special house blends for morning, afternoon, and evening, helping customers find the right blend to start the day or serve to bats that have invaded their home.
Staffers pair teas with an array of cream-topped scones, cookies, cakes, and roasted savory sandwiches during teatime at Chado's three tearooms. Though each location is decorated differently, the same three-tiered sandwich platters and steaming pots of tea travel between panda paintings hanging in the Los Angeles location, underneath strings of holiday lights at the Pasadena location, and between ceiling-high wooden shelves stocked with mugs, filters, teapots, and bags of loose-leaf tea at the Hollywood location.
One hallmark of a good friendship is the ability to share secrets with one another. And as Catarah Hampshire and Shoneji Robison have proven, it's even better when those secrets include closely guarded family recipes. They've taken these recipes and extrapolated them into a collection of cakes and cupcakes inspired by the flavors they grew up with. Eschewing trendy ingredients such as truffle oil, coffee nibs, or shredded pashminas, they aim to evoke down-home Southern cooking in every dessert. Just the names of the resulting treats?such as chicken & waffle, sweet potato, and peach cobbler?have customers reaching for a glass of sweet tea.
The baking duo have earned themselves plenty of laurels with their homegrown flavors. Eater LA named their seasonal Egg Nog and Sin Pie as one of its "15 Holiday Desserts to Try Right Now" in 2013. In the same year, the pair won Season 8 of Food Network's Cupcake Wars. Their sweet creations have also graced the palates of celebrities, including Stevie Wonder, Denzel Washington, and Nick Cannon. Still, their greatest delight is when a customer tells them, "This is better than my mama's."
The recipe for the typical crepe is simple—a bit of flour, milk, water, a few eggs, some butter, and a dash of salt. Yet, transforming that batter into the golden, paper-thin canvases found in classic Parisian cafes—and more importantly, deciding what to put inside the crepe—requires real talent. Luckily, The Crepe Kitchen‘s master chef Yafit Barades eliminates the guesswork with her menu of made-to-order dinner and dessert crepes. With a flick of her wrist, Chef Barades creates edible envelopes for her complex and globally inspired flavors—such as the Italiano, which embellishes melted mozzarella and cheddar with pesto, turkey, and fresh basil. To satisfy their sweet hankerings, guests can enjoy butter-and-sugar, cinnamon-sugar, and Nutella crepes. For a supremely indulgent treat, patrons can tuck into the Oui Oui—a crunchy and sweet collaboration of caramelized walnuts, fresh fruit, and honey that’s more satisfying than watching your ex accidentally marry a mannequin.