Every Menchie's location around the world looks much the same: pink, yellow, and lime-green decor framing the eponymous mascot, a smiley twist of yogurt with a cone for a body. It's an identical template that allows for nearly infinite variations at each outpost's row of 14 or 16 rotating yogurt pumps, where guests can self-serve swirls of flavors such as pistachio, peanut butter cup, cake batter, and fruity raspberry pomegranate tart. Then, they can ladle scoops of nearly 40 toppings?including sprinkles, cookies 'n' cream, hot fudge, and locally grown fruits?onto their creations. Nonfat and no-sugar-added varieties join gluten- and lactose-free options for those who have food sensitivities or just hate the taste of gluten.
From the outside, Maximiliano looks like just another pizza restaurant. Yet inside, there’s an artistically modern feel, with concrete floors, long banquettes with black padded cushions and outdoor lighting that hangs inside the middle of the restaurant, above a boomeranging communal table. Since the restaurant is of an Old School Italian style, one wall has paintings of spaghetti – art students worked with the architect to help design this Andre Guerrero-owned space, creating a whimsical environment. Almost everything on the menu is made from scratch, including the ample breads, pastas and aforementioned pizzas. The draft beer is from Craftsman Brewing Company, one of the oldest craft beer companies in Southern California, and on warm nights, there’s a lovely garden patio in the back with a vertical garden hanging on a fence.
Charm Vegan's menu draws from an eclectic assortment of international cuisines, but every dish demonstrates the same commitment to healthful, vegan-friendly cooking. Soy-based meat and seafood alternatives find their way into dishes that embrace the flavors of southeast Asian cuisine. Although the wealth of spicy chilies, sweet basil leaves, and bold curries demonstrates the chefs' dedication to Thai recipes, they also draw culinary inspiration from other regions. American standbys also find their way into the menu in the shape of burgers made with grilled tofu instead of traditional patties formed with ground beef and copies of the U.S. Constitution.
Since she was a girl, Kim has loved cereal; her sister Heather, meanwhile, adored grilled cheese. These favorite foods from their childhood underpin the menu at their eatery, Mix n? Munch. At the grilled cheese bar, six different breads are stalwart enough to support not just cheddar cheese, but perhaps brie atop gouda, or pepper jack atop gruyere. Add to that veggies such as grilled onions or sauteed mushrooms, and even proteins such as bacon or roast beef, and this is no longer a five-year-old's grilled cheese sandwich.
Cereal eaters also plan their own bowls, choosing from 25 different cereals, some of which can be identified by the cereal-box collage hanging on the butter yellow walls. Old favorites such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Honeycombs get doused in one of five different milk choices. Cereal gains girth from add-ons such as fruit, nuts, and even animal cookies. Diners who'd rather not mix their own bowls or sandwiches can also choose from signature selections for which the staff has kindly recommended combinations.
Garlic Jim's menu was handcrafted with nothing more than a dream and an incredible reserve of pizza-making expertise. Open an order with some gourmet chicken wings, available in barbecue, garlic, and hot, before moving on to pizza territory. Put an end to eating Legos by piecing together a custom pie. Choose from the hand-thrown thick, garlic thin, or gluten-free crusts, slathered in one of seven sauces (from classic red to zesty chipotle pesto), and then slap on any of 15 standard and 11 gourmet toppings (14-inch large pizzas start at $11.99, extra-large $14.99; each additional topping for a large is $1.50). To achieve customization without the stress of having to choose, turn to one of the pre-determined specialties. Meat-maul hunger with the Hercules (salami, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, spicy Italian sausage, and bacon; $18.99 for large, $21.99 for extra-large), or discover the secret of pizza-temperature fusion in your head with Jim's bacon-cheeseburger pizza (beef, bacon, red onions, tomatoes, mozzarella, and cheddar; $18.99 for large, $21.99 for extra-large).
The dessert designers at Penguin's Frozen Yogurt ameliorate sweet deficiencies with twice-weekly rotating yogurt and ice-cream flavors. Decorate a large soft serve cup of fro' yo' ($3.95) with fruit toppings ($.95), sundae toppings ($.90), or dry toppings ($.80). Insufficiently frigid palates can achieve cold-stasis with a double-scoop of ice cream ($3.95) or a custom shake ($4.95), and humans can pull all-dayers with a pastry and Peet's Coffee & Tea cappuccino or latte (available only at the South Pasadena location).