It started as a simple idea shared by two moms. Karen Bain and Lisa Kudrika wanted to make their favorite dessert, shave ice, “hip and trendy,” according to 805 Living magazine. So when they opened Shave It—which recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Tarzana location—they made sure to express their sense of style with chic interior design inspired by water, ice, and snow. Inside the shop, blue plexiglass hangs like icicles over steel tables and chairs. Flat-screen TVs broadcast shots of surfers and snowboarders, and a colorful floor changes design with every step.
Each cup of fluffy shave ice comes drenched with fruity “flavas” flown in from Hawaii, such as mango, guava, or green tea, or a combination, such as root beer ice over vanilla ice cream. Beyond the storefront, Shave It also purveys the frozen concoctions on the go, thanks to a mobile truck that is often spotted at beaches and parks, unless its cloaking device is turned on. They also donate a percentage of their sales to their foster-child foundation, Foster a Miracle.
Though the chefs at Falafelicious happily slice chicken shawarma from the spit and bake flaky squares of baklava, their favorite dish to make has always been falafel. They blend together three gluten-free varieties, including the classic version —made from garbanzo and green split peas—and their own recipes—made with sun-dried tomatoes or sesame. Once cooked, the chefs place the crispy balls in pitas, atop olive-strewn greek salads, or onto plates loaded with hummus or tahina.
They don't just make traditional dishes like kabobs, however. The chefs also experiment with Mediterranean twists on American classics, such as falafel burgers topped in hummus and babaganoush, and falafel tacos filled with Mediterranean cole slaw, hot sauce, and tahina. Because they have yet to find a way to make falafels into dessert, they instead bake homemade baklava.
In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 21 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day ovens warm up cake batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, red velvet, and white-chocolate raspberry are favorite staples, and a new seasonal flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all crowned with signature cream cheese frosting.
In Indian culture, Moksha signifies the release from transmigration, or the endless cycle of death and rebirth. It's fitting that Moksha Restaurant Bar & Lounge bears the name, as it has reinvented and added to its menu of traditional Indian cuisine numerous times to critical acclaim. It recently won America's Best Food Award in the Los Angeles Times. Moksha's clay ovens steam with tandoori chicken and chicken tikka, while pots of curries bubble with seasoning and assorted vegetables. Indo-Chinese dishes such as lettuce wraps, fried wontons, and General Tsao's chicken give the menu pan-asian flare. Vegetarian dishes populate every page of the menu, from curries overflowing with veggies to tofu masala.
Roscoe Bakery's strip-mall locale and small display case belie the whimsical and sophisticated creations whipped up by the bakery’s team of bakers and pastry chefs. They specialize in the creation of wedding and children’s cakes topped with imaginative motifs that range from fondant flowers and frosted unicorns to well-researched scientific hypotheses. For smaller occasions, they bake five flavors of cupcakes, swirled in rich buttercream.
El Taco Llama crafts authentic, quick-serve Mexican fare that folds traditional and exotic meats into tortillas, gorditas, and hard taco shells. Proteins from chicken to barbecue pork to beef tongue fill burritos, sopes, or quesadillas. Orders of nachos supreme can come topped with shredded beef or ham, and special platters of five tacos populate shelled empires with fish, beef cheek, or breaded meat. The tortas plate serves up rice, beans, and tortillas, and combination plates mix and match menu items to make tiny tostado-taco or gordita-taco hybrids that can be used to power fuel-efficient dune buggies.