The city of Santa Clara is home to more than 120,000 residents and is a thriving community for business, art, food, and culture. The city is often viewed as being in the shadow of San Jose, but it really just has more of a family-community vibe, while still being loaded with fun, one-of-a-kind places.
Mission City Creamery is a family business that was established in 2013 by Chris Leahy, who has been making and serving ice cream for almost 20 years. Their ice cream is handmade daily in small batches, and the shop buys their raw, organic ingredients from local sellers. Some of the creamery’s specialties include: ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, milk shakes, root beer floats, ice cream cakes, and savory hot sandwiches.
Illusive Comics touts the largest selection of comics in the South Bay and is open 365 days a year. Illusive welcomes comic creators to their store for signings and special events throughout the year. In fact, Illusive, along with their expansion game store across the street, Isle of Gamers, is always ready for a party. Whether it is a meet and greet with local artists on Free Comic Book Day, stormtrooper photo shoots with members of the 501st on May the 4th (aka “Star Wars Day”), or a pie baking contest on Pi Day (3/14), Illusive has you covered. The staff are helpful, knowledgeable, and have a playful and witty sense of humor.
Big Mug Coffee Roaster may not look much from the outside, but once inside, the appetizing aromas, huge selection of pastries, and tasteful display of local art on the wall greets patrons with a warm atmosphere. The specialty items include: ginger macchiatos, honey bread, green tea shaved ice, lemon tarts, and delicious waffles topped with fruit and ice cream. A community book shelf and a spacious eating and studying area complete the homey feel, appealing to both old-fashioned and modern styles.
Within its three years of existence, Studio-Bongiorno has became a hot spot for art lovers. Owner Phil Bongiorno is an artist himself, and his studio’s motto is “embracing the light and dark within us all,” which is evocative of the works viewers will encounter within the studio’s walls. However, this studio does not limit the art it presents to what can be hang on the wall, but also features poetry readings and music performances.
The Delicious Crepes Bistro uses 100% vegetarian and natural ingredients. Founded in 2008 as a family business by Natan Ibragimchayev, the company began serving crepes at farmers’ markets. Following the success of the farmers’ markets, Natan opened this bistro near the university–although you can still find them at local farmers’ markets, as well. Along with crepes, their menu includes coffees, juices, smoothies, salads, and breakfast scrambles.
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Written by Justin San Diego and Julia Canavese
Photos by Kristen Pfund and Elle Mitchell