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.
When Millions of Milkshakes introduces a new milkshake or smoothie, paparazzi and screaming fans usually attend the event. That’s because these drink exposés often dovetail with a celebrity appearance—stars such as Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, and Albert Einstein have hand-crafted desserts that now appear on the creamery's menu.
In addition to serving celebrity-endorsed desserts, Millions of Milkshakes prepares custom-made creations. It does so in three steps, scooping a base (dairy or non-dairy ice cream), tailoring the dessert to a size, and mixing in toppings. Its roster of nearly 60 toppings includes everything from candy and hot fudge to fresh fruit and protein powder.
Between the celebrity following, the DIY process, and the bright-colored shop with plasma screens and modern music, Millions of Milkshakes has attracted the attention of many national news outlets, including E! and NBC News.
For 36 years, Cake and Art's kitchen has yielded batch after batch of imaginative desserts, including birthday cakes for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Jay Leno, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber. Behind the scenes at the acclaimed shop—whose work has graced the cover of Life magazine—the skilled staff churns out a surfeit of cupcakes, cookies and brownies, and chocolate bars with creatively customized labels. Their specialty cakes boast foundations of vanilla, chocolate, carrot, red velvet, or lemon, and they often personalize the ubiquitous party treats with customer's photographs and themed designs. The shop's cupcake artist, Kody Christiansen, hosts cupcake-decorating classes and private parties that teach attendees a tier of skills, such as how to create a buttercream flower and how to profit from buttercream botanic gardens.
Rockpaper Coffee Co. and Grind House Coffee roast premium, single-origin arabica coffees to fuel auspicious morning starts and day-brightening afternoon pick-me-ups. Rockpaper Coffee Co. immerses java sippers in a modern café setting, complete with exposed-brick walls and natural light pouring in from the storefront windows. Lofted at wooden high-top tables, customers can admire the frothy art whipped into their libations or request that baristas draft police sketches of thieving cookie monsters in their latte foam. Other edibles include breakfast sandwiches and fruit smoothies. Occasional open-mic nights and free comedy shows keep laughs pouring liberally.
Inspired by Taiwanese frozen-ice treats, Snobar flash-freezes flavor-infused water to create chilly, low-cal desserts known as Sno. The shop trades gooey syrups for purified water and crisp, natural flavors such as chocolate-strawberry and honeydew, making each bite cooler and creamier than a stick of butter wearing a leather jacket. Unlike standard shaved ice, each cup of Sno boasts a consistent flavor and a light, ribbon-like texture. Though Sno enchants sweet teeth on its own, its charm multiplies when paired with toppings such as Ghirardelli caramel, crunchy granola, and unsolicited compliments.