The chefs at Annapurna meld a variety of authentic herbs and spices with veggie-laden entrees to craft a menu of savory Indian eats. The cheese dosa Annapurna special stuffs its pillowed crepe with a hearty blend of marinated mozzarella cheese, tomato, and cilantro ($8.95), dueling the succulent flavors of the Hyderabadi baingan ka bharta curry—fresh eggplant from the clay oven with an armful of chopped onions, diced tomatoes, and a special spice blend ($9.95). Batter-fried pieces of cauliflower bask in a garlic sauce with tomato accents in the gobi manchurian ($10.95), finishing off appetites with orders of the garlic naan ($3) or two vegetable samosas that barely manage to contain a potato-and-mixed-vegetable mélange within its crispy crusts ($4.50). A cultural immersion from "hello" to "holla back," Annapurna keeps guests cozy with a dining room TV broadcasting a range of Bollywood movies and sports.
Though some Indian dishes can be replicated at home, others require a more practiced hand. Customers at Samosa House have the best of both worlds. While picking up ingredients for their own dishes at the combination restaurant-grocery, they can stop to snack on a flaky samosa from the full Indian buffet.
Qdoba's burrito baristas handcraft a catering menu of Mexican-inspired cuisine, customizable with a panoply of fresh ingredients for a taco, nacho, or burrito bar. Qdoba's culinary crafters craft succulent fillings for burritos, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas, including protein-packing choices, such as slow-roasted pulled pork, adobo-marinated grilled steak or chicken, and spiced shredded or ground beef, with vegetarian options also available. Taste the gooey flavor accents of the signature queso sauce, a three-cheese blend with roasted poblanos, tomatoes, and jalapeños, the pinto or black beans simmered in cumin and onion, or the creamy, hand-smashed guacamole that's ideal for filling up Queen Elizabeth's diamond-studded guacamole chalice. Tortilla chips with salsa bar and desserts complete each catered event, and customers can opt for burrito-boxed lunches and any add-ons.
Ravi and Sunitha Koneru don't much care for limitations. Not in their food, their decor, or their vision. When designing the menu for Chakra Cuisine they saw the entirety of India as a source of inspiration, from the tandoori of the North and the curries of the South to the street food of Bombay and the recipes of their native Hyderbad. And then they looked even further. What they found were ingredients such as banana leaves, scallops, and caramelized pineapples—ingredients rarely used in Indian cuisine that expertly matched the flavor profiles they dreamed up. The result is a blend of traditional and modern, where classic dishes such as chicken tikka masala segue into spicy reinventions, including a vegetable masala quiche.
The dining space is likewise a mix of old and new. Indian accents anchor the sleek, contemporary aesthetic of the dining room and private lounge, while colors drawn from the dishes themselves combine to create a cohesive backdrop. Red and gold dominate the interior, but brighter colors surround the bar, notably inside its seven specialty martinis. As for the outdoor patios, their tables center around a circular fire pit, whose flames tempt guests to sit amid the mandarin-orange trees and tell scary stories about hitchhikers with samosas for hands.
M Café de Chaya culls fresh, nutrient-dense veggies and fish to assemble a macrobiotic menu that eschews the meddling of refined sugars, eggs, diary, red meat, and poultry. Entree salads such as the M Chopped lead the leafy charge with mixed greens, chickpeas, herb-baked tofu, umeboshi-pickled radishes, and tempeh “bacon” ($11.45). Amid a battalion of sandwiches and wraps, the Big Macro burger smuggles a whole-grain-rice-and-veggie patty into bellies inside a house-baked whole-wheat bun ($9.95). Sushi rolls ($2.25–$2.75 à la carte) round out the menu with tofu, tuna, shrimp, or salmon clad in brown rice harvested from California’s Koda Farms by quail paid a humane living wage.
Founded in a Laguna Beach art colony, Z Pizza has spent 25 years honing in on the perfect doughy disc, building prototypes with 100% organic wheat crusts and creative toppings. Dough-slingers hand toss each crust, be it regular, whole wheat or gluten-free, before fire-baking it to a signature crunch. Sauces such as chipotle pesto, thai peanut, or organic tomato coat the dough before a cascade of more than 40 toppings such as additive-free sausage, truffle oil, or free-range pepper shakers spill over the colorful surface. Vegan-friendly meals are also available, whereas gluten-free options include a rice, tapioca, and potato-flour personal pizza.