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.
The gifted tart architects at Früute incorporate myriad fresh and organic ingredients inside handcrafted modern incarnations of the classic French treat. During the 60-minute tart experience, paired patrons can whet their whistles with coffee or tea and admire the harmonious construction and aria-inspiring tastes of a flight of signature tarts. Each flight includes an arrangement of six of Früute's 16 miniature varieties—which range from the classic passion fruit, a vanilla crust donning a tropical macaroon hat, to the curiously flavored wasabi, spicy Japanese horseradish housed in a pistachio crust and topped with a tempura mint leaf. As guests sample the wares, knowledgeable tartists will thoroughly explain each square-shaped selection's ingredients, core flavors, and unsuitability for use as earrings. Guests can conclude their experience by relaxing in Früute's sleek, minimalistic interior and heading off with a quartet of to-go tarts, tucked into a stylish box made from recycled paper.
Food + Lab is run by mad scientists Esther and Nino Linsmayer, a mother-and-son team with a simple strategy for galactic domination: using only the freshest possible nitrate-free, hormone-free, organic ingredients. Food + Lab's lunch menu runs the gamut from an organic curried-chicken sandwich ($8) to a buffalo-mozzarella organic salad bedazzled with cherry tomato, zucchini, pesto, tapenade, and sunflower seeds ($13), with stops in between at organic oases and healthy havens in the guises of bowls of soup ($5.50) and cheese platters with fruits, nuts, and bread baskets ($15).