A connoisseur by birth, Mark Ukra comes from a family of Middle Eastern tea merchants dating back 400 years. Mark, who was dubbed the Tea Doctor by a pair of brew-sipping toddlers, continues in his forebears' footsteps by searching teahouses and stalking wild teapots around the world. He and his wife, Julie, bought the Tea Garden & Herbal Emporium to educate patrons about tea’s health benefits and share its subtle taste in the outdoor zen garden. The venture was a success, and the business has popped up in all sorts of media—The View, The New York Times, and Los Angeles Confidential magazine, to name just a few.
Dr. Tea’s library of more than 50 varieties of loose-leaf teas and more than 60 varieties of Chinese herbs includes award-winning CapaTeano drinks and Chinese herbal tonics. Its earthy blends range from standard Earl Grey, Darjeeling, and jasmine teas to tempting flavors including herbal caramel dream and black-label teas such as the rare Huo Shan Huang Ya tea. During monthly tea tastings, patrons can sip from samples of white, green, oolong, and black teas, followed by discussions of the four tea groups.
From its first location in West Hollywood to its free-range food truck, Rounds Premium Burgers doles out mighty American burgers made with beef, turkey, chicken, or veggie patties along with a large selection of fries. Specialty rounds include The Slopper, a messy pile of chili, cheese, and onions. Custom burgers start with a foundation of daily-baked bread and a patty, which are then slathered with exotic sauces (from chipotle aioli to buttermilk ranch and tabasco ketchup) and layered with toppings such as crispy onion strings, breaded jalapeños, and grilled pineapple. From the burgers to the sweet-potato fries, the griddlemasters make all of their hearty, old-fashioned fare by hand.
Walking into Mickey Fine Pharmacy & Grill, one may get the sensation of having stepped into a snapshot of the past. “The Beverly Hills business lays claim to being the only remaining pharmacy in the region with a counter and soda fountain, where patrons can enjoy old-time favorites such as egg-cream sodas and hand-spun malted shakes,” says a reporter for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Perched at the original pharmacy counter, which has been serving food since 1962, customers hoist hunger-defeating burgers or freshly grilled sandwiches. Servers deliver hand-spun milk shakes and malts crafted with artisan ice cream and crowned with whipped cream like a court summons from King Candy. The aisles are still stocked with beauty and healthcare products, which customers peruse, distracted by the aromas of espresso, breakfast burritos, and housemade meatloaf.
Certified massage therapist Erin Warfield Shaffer expresses her belief in holistic approaches to wellness by treating bodies to a detoxifying combination of hands, herbs, and hydrotherapy. Shaffer's four massages range from hot-stone techniques that melt tension in backs to reflexology methods that manipulate the feet in an effort to relieve pain in the rest of the body. She also cleanses bodies with such detoxification rituals as the acupoint session, a massage-like treatment that causes key points in the body to absorb healthy herbs so that clients don't have to sleep on a pile of herb-crusted halibut. The center also concocts custom facials and peels that nourish the skin with hydrotherapy, botanicals rich in Vitamin C, and other organic ingredients.
Cuisine Type: Mediterranean-Persian fusion
Reservations: Not offered
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 25–50
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Kebabs, hummus, fresh laffa bread, hookah
Delivery / Take-out Available: Yes
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Pro Tip: Weekend evenings [there's a] live DJ, therefore after 9 p.m. there is a crowd. Hookah is served only after 6 p.m.
This past March, Passion Cafe & Lounge got a new owner and a new a chef. Educated at the Culinary Institute, Chef Josh uses his classical training to fuse Mediterranean and Persian influences into a single extensive menu. His specialties include beef schnitzel, hand-breaded filets of meat served over basmati rice, and the simple yet delicious tomato and egg shakshuka, two poached eggs in a hearty tomato-vegetable sauce flavored with garlic, onions, and saffron tea, and ingredient normally only found in cups of hot water and recently pranked hot springs.
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.