As visitors devour spoonfuls of sweet, creamy frozen treats at Menchie’s, they may notice a string of ’90s-era sitcom stars arriving to sample the wares and chat with the man in charge. That’s because owner/operator David Lipper first made a name for himself on Full House playing D.J. Tanner’s boyfriend Viper. Today, Lipper proudly sits atop a local frozen-yogurt empire, edging out his fellow cast mates’ enterprises, including Dave Coulier’s network of Swiss banks and John Stamos’s ’50s-themed doggy daycare. Inside the shop, diners select from a colorful array of flavors, such as low-carb pistachio or fruity watermelon tart, and crown their creation with toppings including sprinkles, mocha, hot fudge, and locally grown fruits.
Crepes and Grapes Café celebrates and honors French culture with its sidewalk cafe atmosphere, Bastille Day celebration, and a variety of sweet and savory crepes. At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the shop churns out thin, stuffed pancakes filled with ingredients that range from maple and cream to garlic-rich shrimp scampi. Guests can sample the edible wares within the sunny storefront or sit just outside underneath table umbrellas surrounded by salivating flower beds.
Tony Alcazar spent six years cooking in the kitchen of the Ritz-Carlton Pasadena under Michelin-rated chef Craig Strong. It was there that he learned the “Modern American” style of cooking, a simple yet elegant approach that favors seasonal ingredients and contemporary cooking techniques. He brought this unique style to The Bottle Room, along with his love of craft beer, and fused the two. Chef Alcazar’s menu includes Sriracha-honey chicken lollipops and tacos filled with slow-braised beef cheeks, dishes cooked with a simple elegance and often a splash of craft beer. Those looking to turn that splash into a pint need only browse the extensive beer menu. Though it rotates frequently, expect to see brews from Rogue Brewing Company in Portland, Abbaye De Scourmont in Belgium, and Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg, California. The Bottle Room also features wines from California, Italy, France, and Spain.
It didn’t take long for Brian Kozak to discover his passion for food: at the age of three, after he first tried shrimp cocktail and crème brulee, he would spend hours leafing through cookbooks and family recipes in his parents’ kitchen. His fascination with food led him to build an impressive culinary resume: after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Brian spent four years cooking for Bon Appetit, opened his own catering company, and learned how to fold a puff pastry according to army-bed making standards. Today, he demonstrates his culinary prowess as the resident Chef at Sage Restaurant and Lounge. Kozak’s influences span the globe: try the Spanish saffron paella with chorizo and shrimp, or any of six 10-inch pizzas. The dining room also has global flair, from its Tuscan yellow walls to its terra cotta tile floors.
The large, red sign outside Jack's Whittier Restaurant looks like something out of the '60s or '70s. In reality, the eatery's roots formed much earlier; signs throughout the recently remodeled interior remind visitors that the it has in fact been in business since 1933. The throwback coffee shop and diner serves a medley of classic American food throughout the day, including burgers, fried chicken, and breakfast dishes such as three-egg omelets and buttermilk pancakes. To cap off the sense of Americana, servers also man an ice cream parlor where they scoop out frozen treats to make milkshakes, sundaes, and banana splits for dessert.
To accommodate brief lunch breaks, the service is swift at Pho Whittier. That said, it's hard not to pause and inhale deeply when presented with an aromatic bowl of pho. Each warm helping of signature noodle soup comes with your choice of beef, from rare steak and brisket to tendon and tripe. There's 12 types of beef pho on the menu, as well as chicken and seafood variants for those looking to branch out.
The staff also preps a long list of Vietnamese entrees, wrapping up shrimp and bean curd to adorn strands of vermicelli, and placing baked egg loaves on top of broken rice, whose grains were finely chopped beneath a microscope. Chow mein and chow fun dishes feature beef, shrimp, chicken, or a combination of all three, whereas affordable banh mi sandwiches layer baguettes with pork.
A list of fruity and creamy beverages complement the spices and herbs found in most meals: there's red bean and coconut milk drinks, Vietnamese iced coffees, and smoothies in flavors such as mango and lychee.