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 sunny afternoon, Ginnie Lu and her friends sat in a café sipping hot drinks and chatting about how much they would love to run their own tea and coffee house. When the group realized that they had the means to carve their dream into reality, they spent the next two years saving and planning. Finally, in 2010, they opened Four Leaf Tea Room, a cozy enclave where guests can sip specialty brews amidst the aromas of sweet and savory crepes. Mugs of oolong and chrysanthemum keep fingers warm during the year's cooler temperatures, and when the summer returns, they cool down with iced teas and mango freezes on an outdoor patio.
Despite Four Leaf’s name, its upscale, innovate crepes force its teas to share the limelight. A chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu dreams up the lavish fillings, pairing smoked salmon and caper-herb cream or soy-marinated chicken with crushed peanuts for savory meals. Sweet versions make use of exotic ingredients such as red-wine-poached pears, candied pecans, taro paste, and gelato. As guests fork into these creations, they can admire walls decorated with spring-green leaves and shelves filled with loose-leaf blends and prehistoric fossils of steam from early teas.
Though they’ve garnered the praise of national publications such as Bon Appètit and Nylon Magazine, the chefs at Pazzo Gelato are all about the local community. Each morning, they frolic through the city’s farmer’s markets to find seasonal inspiration, using organic ingredients whenever possible and steering clear of high-fructose corn syrup. Patrons can mix-and-match decadent combinations such as Madagascar vanilla and sea salt caramel or pistachio and red velvet. Vegan sorbettos include flavors such as toasted coconut and dark chocolate orange. All cool creations can be scooped into the shop’s biodegradable cups and waffle cones, or gently lobbed into a cup of espresso and whipped cream for the shop’s signature pazzogato. At the espresso bar, staffers pour aromatic cups of Intelligentsia coffee, loose-leaf tea, and drinking chocolate. The combination of cool and hot menu options makes the patio comfortable in summer, fall, and apocalyptic weather.
The kitchen staff at Got Kosher? sidestep preservatives when making their daily yield of international kosher cuisine that includes French, Moroccan, and Tunisian dishes. Under the watchful eye of the onsite mashgiach, they prepare pulled beef brisket, Tunisian couscous, rotisserie chicken, Neshama gourmet kosher chicken, and turkey sausages served on pretzel rolls. Their flavorful fare has caught the attention of LA Weekly's Linda Burum, who calls the brik a l'oeuf—a deep-fried crepe folded over egg, capers, and tuna—"one of the world's great feats of culinary alchemy." In addition to a full slate of Ashkenazi and Sephardic dishes and a well-stocked deli case, Got Kosher? dispatches its full-service caterers to serve meals and resolve family feuds during weddings and special events.
Combining a high-end chocolatier with a relaxing coffee spot, Lady Chocolatt Café serves both those in the market for fancy gifts – or treats for themselves – and a relaxing afternoon sipping drinks and reading or working. The front side of Lady Chocolatt is the chocolate showroom, where truffles, ganache and pralines line display shelves and the friendly staff is able to explain the differences between the available sweets. It’s also where the customer can order coffee and a sandwich or a Belgian waffle, before heading to the back room, a quiet oasis away from the bustle of Wilshire Boulevard. For an added treat, combine the café and chocolate sides of the business by ordering the store’s hot chocolate, then sip away at one of the café tables out front, under the fanciful maroon awning.
Baba Ji, the proprietor of Silverlake Juice and Tea, explores a new frontier in fusion with the food at Cowboys and Turbans—the tantalizing blend of South Asian, American, and Mexican cuisine. The menu unites antipodal parts of the globe with hearty samosas wrapped in flour tortillas instead of samosa dough, tacos filled with tandoori meats and chutneys, and pizzas made with a chewy tandoori naan crust. Towering doors of wood and iron lined with intricately carved columns reveal an open-air patio, which surrounds visitors with flickering torchlight and a canopy of multicolored cloth. Statues of animals and deities ring the courtyard, patiently waiting to ask if diners are going to finish their masala burgers, tandoori cornish hens, and aromatic vegetarian and seafood curries.