Restaurants

Kefa Coffee

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This place has a cult of appreciators for their breakfast sandwiches, which is why my visiting NC foodie friends insisted we check it out. It’s open only for breakfast and lunch and is located right off the fork between 29th and 23rd leading into Alameda.

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It is a simple fact of life that egg-and-cheeses are heaven on earth, and Kefa’s workers know how to offer them proper tribute. They take their preparations seriously, which results in a longer wait than you might expect for an egg-and-cheese. English muffins are toasted to a deep crisp, and the cheese is broiled to the point that it gets a plasticine outer shell. Note: that is not a complaint. True egg-and-cheeses bear both those marks of quality.

I went for the basic egg, bacon, and cheese.

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Top marks for the English muffin’s burnt edges, the cheese’s flavor and texture, and the sheer volume of egg, but my bacon was definitely burnt. As someone who microwaves her bacon because she hates it undercooked, that’s saying something. The bacon was rather salty as well.

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Afghan Village

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The husband and I ended up at Afghan Village after a quick Yelp search from the freeway when our hunger post-wine-tasting had reached critical levels. So that hunger may have influenced my opinion of the establishment, but honestly, I think Afghan Village just plain has amazing food despite mixed Yelp reviews.

It’s located in a dark strip mall, and the restaurant was just starting to get patrons in the early evening, around 6 pm. Traditional, elaborate decorations adorn the walls. Gold, white, and red were the primary colors of the room.

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It gave of the vibe of a special occasion restaurant, the type where a large family would rent half the room for a birthday or wedding celebration—the two throne chairs in the center of the restaurant definitely contributed to that effect. The décor made the place seem vast when not filled, but it was pleasant to gape at, regardless.

Service was prompt. Because of our hunger, an appetizer was a must.

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Those are potatoes pakora, and I loved them. The spices in the besan flour batter made for an intriguing blend, and the cilantro chutney banished any potential for blandness. It was a healthy helping, too. Despite that glossy sheen, they didn’t taste at all greasy and had a crisp exterior.

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Sugar High Dessert Dispensary

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I tried out the cupcakes at this local bakery stand inside the NewPark Mall (directly under the food court) after an open mic night with the Fremont Writers’ Club. The pretty, pretty cupcakes on display drew me in; I’m a sucker for a gorgeous cupcake, although the wares often don’t deliver on the visual appeal. It was nearing closing, so the owner saw me looking and enticed me over by offering a deal for the gigantic cinnamon rolls. I’m not a big cinnamon roll fan, so I countered with a two-for-one cupcake offer, which she happily accepted. Normally, the cupcakes are $3.50 each, so taking home an extra one for the husband at that price was great! The owner scurried back to their kitchen to frost them freshly, which she loves doing whenever the stand isn’t too busy. Meanwhile, I noticed they sell Marianne’s ice cream, and because I’m an UCSC alum, that earned Sugar High Dessert Dispensary another star in my book. So did the store’s whimsical name.

Cupcakes secured nicely in a bakery tin, and I was on my way. Back home, the husband and I split the cupcakes in half. The owner had mentioned she uses fresh strawberries in the batter, syrup, and frosting for the strawberry cream cake, so that’s why I chose it.

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It was delightfully moist with lots of strawberry flavor. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the frosting as well. She mentioned in passing that the frosting was nondairy, which brings to mind many forgettable birthday cakes from grocery stores. But in this case, it made for a silkier frosting with a bit of weight to it that I’m sure the lactose intolerant would appreciate. It was a fun change from buttercream or whipped cream for me.

Our second cupcake, the Elvis, was chocolate with banana frosting and peanut butter swirls on top.

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The cake was moist again but not quite as notable in flavor as the strawberry one. However, the banana frosting was absolutely divine. Using peanut butter as more of an accent than the main draw was a good call. The frosting went down into the middle of both the cupcakes about an inch, which was a fun surprise. In the Elvis’s case, it also recalled the classic Hostess cupcake.

Let’s just say I am not at all unhappy to pass Sugar High on my way out of the mall once a month.

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Sugar High Dessert Dispensary
NewPark Mall
Newark
Website

Reviewed 27 February 14.

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