Namastey India looks like a small grocery store from the outside, but once inside, you’ll catch a delightful whiff of the OC Weekly's Best Indian Restaurant. According to the Los Angeles Times, owner, chef, and New Delhi transplant Ashish Pal grinds his own spices and bakes every batch of bread to order because he "wanted to do it authentic, do it right, do it the way it should be." Pal churns out regional fare such as channa batura, a spicy chickpea dish, as well as Indian staples, including samosas as perfectly crispy golden as if they were dipped in Midas’s fryer.
After opening their first store in Anaheim in 1993, the grocery gurus behind Super King Markets noticed the globe-spanning diversity of their customer base. This keen insight led them to stock shelves with brands from across the world and around the corner, a policy which helped them win LA Weekly's Best Ethnic Deli Counter of 2009, Best Place to Buy Nutella of 2010, and Best Palace of Cheap Produce of 2011. Now expanded to five locations, the store still fills each outpost with fruits and vegetables, quality meats and private-label seafood, and an assortment of shells in the mixed-nut bar. Staff members behind the service deli weigh imported salamis, caviar, and cheeses for their upcoming high-school wrestling matches, and clerks in the liquor aisle dole out advice on each spirited beverages. Additionally, the Los Angeles, Altadena, and Claremont locations invite shoppers to linger longer with an expansive fresh bakery.
After moving to the United States in 1968, Mark Lewis sorely missed the fresh fish he had found so readily available across the Atlantic Ocean. He was born in Marseille, France, and grew up in Casablanca, Morocco, where he spent leisurely days fishing the rivers with his friends. Lewis decided to create Dry Dock Fish Company to give Americans a taste of his beloved homeland. For more than 25 years now, Lewis and his family have been listening to customers' fish stories with a smile and working tirelessly to give people a deeper appreciation of the fruits of the sea.
According to his bio, Lewis's favorite selections are the Santa Barbara shrimp, local halibut, and mahi-mahi. But renowned chef and restaurateur Giacomino Drago was drawn to the whole branzino; as part of the Farm to Table video series, he prepared one for dinner after a culinary excursion to the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market. You can find the branzino—along with sashimi-grade tuna or salmon smoked in-house—at the main storefront, in gourmet restaurants from Los Angeles to San Diego, and at more than 20 farmers' markets in Southern California. The shop also stocks delicacies, such as jars of preserved lemons and limes from Morocco and jars of preserved jelly bracelets from 1986.
Liberty Tax Service has numerous LA-area locations, but this Groupon is valid for six (see sidebar). Each location is staffed with professional refund hounds who can chase away the burden and stress of tax season and sniff out your maximum allowable refund. Unless you can find the square root of a tuber and divide it by half the value of zero, like Liberty's staff can, then you won't get the biggest refund possible. In order to get your full refund, bring a comprehensive selection of forms and reciepts, including your 1040s, W-2s, 560Zs, 2345Exs, and T-1000s.
Award-winning chefs can be found at Prep Kitchen Essentials, sharing knowledge to small groups of students. The cooking-supply retailer and culinary school enlists world-class kitchen artists to teach its introductory cooking courses. This level of access to acclaimed chefs is a rarity in the cooking-school world, and the newcomers who populate these beginner-level classes are immediately inspired as they learn the basics of preparation and the art of elegant presentation. Prep Kitchen's curriculum attracts a diversity of students, including professional chefs-in-training. In addition to adult courses, instructors kindle the talents of budding chefs with children's cooking classes and a summer camp where campers engage in string cheese tug-of-war and tell ghost stories about over-cooked risotto.