Places to chill

By Linda Taaffe and Tim Seyfert / Town Crier Staff Writers
Published on August 13, 2003

Locals could really work up a sweat trying to find a cool spot to escape the summer heat. That's why we made it easier for you with the Town Crier's 2003 Top Five summer picks for Ultimate Places to "Chill."

Cool Blue

Name: "The Cellar" at Beausejour

Address: 170 State St., Los Altos

Telephone: 948-1382 for dining reservations/ 948-8667 for cellar information

Hours: 7 p.m., Thursdays

Some Chicago flare has been added to the French flavor at Beausejour in downtown Los Altos. The upscale restaurant this month has included Blues, Delta, Dixieland, and Irish folk music Thursday nights in its cellar.

The blues concert series features local musicians from Los Altos and Los Altos Hills playing an eclectic mix. There is a $5 cover charge and two-for-one drinks. The bar menu is available.

Chuck McCabe and Fra Drumm are scheduled to open Thursday with their Irish and American-style genre followed by the house band Blues Cadillac with Laura Chavez. Blues Cadillac plays early Chicago-style and Delta blues.

Upcoming bands include the Rick Glaze band, Almost Blue, and Jan Fanucchi and Walter Jebe with their American roots sound.

A tropical view

Name: Vive Sol

Address: 2020 El Camino Real, Mountain View (between Rengstorff and Escuela avenues)

A cascading waterfall surrounded by ferns and other tropical foliage provides a lush backdrop to the outdoor patio at Mountain View's Vive Sol restaurant. An arched stucco bar shields the area from nearby El Camino Real, creating a secluded hideaway. Add a chilled margarita, some of the area's best hospitality and traditional Mexican music and you have the makings for a cool summer getaway.

Owners Hector and Helena Sol celebrated the restaurant's two-year anniversary this summer. Vive Sol is just one of several local Mexican restaurants that Helena's family owns, including Palo Alto Sol, which the Sols opened 10 years ago, and her siblings' Fiesta Del Mar, Fiesta Del Mar Too and La Fiesta.

At Vive Sol, Helena and Hector treat patrons to 100-year-old family recipes and a large selection of traditional "Comida Poblana," or food from Puebla, Mexico, where the Sols grew up.

The dark, sweet mole featured on the menu is a specialty originally developed in the Puebla region and perfected by the Sols. Each region in Mexico has its own style of mole sauce, Helena said. The peppers used in the Puebla mole were grown only in that region, she added.

Vive Sol has become a neighborhood favorite. Patrons continuously trickled in from the street during last month's heat wave, filling the patio by dusk.

Aloha flare

Name: Lappert's Ice cream

Address: Rancho Shopping Center, 656 Fremont Ave.

Telephone: 949-5680

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Guava Cheesecake, Strawberry Luau, Beach Bumberry, and a variety of other tropical ingredients from the Hawaiian islands are on the menu at Lappert's Ice Cream at Rancho Shopping Center in Los Altos.

The original ice cream factory was founded in Hanapepe, Kauai, in 1983 by Walter Lappert, 81, who moved to the tropical island after he retired.

His ice cream found quick success and made its way onto the mainland shortly afterward. The Rancho location offers among the largest varieties of Lappert's flavors in this area, said owner Sung Kim, who purchased the shop last October. There are close to 100 ice cream, sorbet and shaved ice blends at the shop.

All of the ice creams are created from ingredients grown on the Hawaiian Islands - guava, Macadamia nuts, pineapple, mango, Kona coffee beans, passion fruit and coconut. The ice cream is handmade, containing 16 percent to 18 percent butterfat, compared with the average of about 10 percent in most ice cream.

The sorbets are made from 100 percent natural fruit puree and pure sugar cane .

Despite Lappert's popularity, you won't find his ice cream in any grocery stores. Lappert will only distribute his blends to shops, where it is served fresh.

Lappert continues to make ice cream at his small factory in Hanapepe, as well as in Richmond. The company produces only 150,000 gallons a year for limited distribution. Lappert's white-bearded face appears as the company logo.

Swanky tropics

Name: Trader Vic's

Address: 4269 El Camino Real, Palo Alto

Telephone: 849-9800

Web: www.tradervicspaloalto.com

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday to Thursday; open to 12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturday.

With a mix of exotic island cuisine and eye-candy Polynesian decor, Trader Vic's in Palo Alto brings the authentic taste of the tropics to mid-Peninsula restaurant-goers.

First opening in 2001, the island-themed restaurant is the newest branch of the international franchise created nearly 70 years ago by globe-trotting Epicurean "Trader Vic" Bergernon.

The Tiki art-laden dining space is decorated in traditional colors, fabrics and woods of the Pacific Islands, creating a fitting ambiance for the restaurant's multiethnic delicacies. The imaginative menu incorporates French, Chinese and Indian influences, with such notable specialties as Chinatown duck and macadamia nut mahi-mahi.

Still, a true Trader Vic's experience is realized when sipping back on one its world-famous rum mai tais -- a drink Bergernon himself introduced to thirsty Americans in the 1930s.

Truly Cool

Name: Cool Cafe

Address: 328 Lomita Dr.

Stanford University Cantor Arts Center

Palo Alto

Telephone: 725-4758

Web: www.stanford.edu/dept/ccva

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday; open to 8 p.m. on Thursday.

For more than three years, food has truly imitated art at this prime lunching spot.

With its galleryesque setting and outdoor tables overlooking the Rodin Sculpture Garden, diners are sure to get an eyeful while munching on food prepared in harmony with seasonal bounty.

The menu runs the gamut from salads to sandwiches, but it's the soups, which vary from herb-spiked vegetable chicken noodle to fragrant mushroom, that reign supreme at this scenic eatery

Serving only locally grown, organic and chemical-free produce is a trademark of chef Jesse Cool and is what Cool Cafe is especially known for

Save room for desert, such as the brownie espresso cheesecake or a cup of organic coffee.