Mocktails are becoming more common on some restaurants’ menus lately, but coming upon Shirley’s Temple — which deals exclusively in nonalcoholic drinks — was akin to discovering a treasure trove of flavor without the hangover woes.

Tucked away in an unassuming commercial area in Signal Hill, this hidden gem exudes charm and creativity, making it a must-visit for mocktail enthusiasts like myself. The restaurant opened in October 2023 with the vision of offering the community a place for sober parties, classes and other events.

Upon entering, I was immediately drawn to the 1930s geometric decor and white-and-black-checkered floor, a whimsical nod to the era of the bar’s namesake.

Stephanie “Essie” Evans, the owner, greeted us warmly, setting the stage for an evening filled with surprises and culinary delights. Our server, Ryan, was a mocktail virtuoso, guiding us through a tantalizing array of concoctions with expert finesse and a friendly demeanor.

The menu boasted an exciting lineup of mocktails. I kicked off my adventure with the Lemon’s Paradise — a refreshing blend of fresh lemon, Optimist botanicals, pear and ginger. It was like sunshine in a glass.

My partner opted for the Pilgrims Peach — a delightful fusion of peach, nectar, grapefruit and Namari Italian liqueur, delivering a cocktail-like essence without the alcohol. A friend who came with us ventured into spring with the Spring into Me mocktail — a blend reminiscent of a Paloma (a fruity tequila cocktail), complete with grapefruit, nonalcoholic tequila, strawberry, floral bitters and a rim of rose petals.

Mocktails at Shirley’s Temple, including Lemon’s Paradise, Spring into Me and Pilgrim’s Peach. Photo by Eli Cribari.

Moving onto solid ground, we started with the mushroom and pesto flatbread, a crispy delight with a generous spread of pesto and mushrooms. For our main courses: the Shirley Bird sandwich, a turkey marvel with cranberry goat cheese spread and arugula, all nestled between sweet Texas toast; the Goddess Wrap, a flavorful ensemble bursting with Green Goddess dressing, seasoned chicken, romaine, tomato, cucumber, pickled onion, avocado and bacon. I’m not a fan of Green Goddess dressing, but our friend loved it. A side of fresh chips would have complimented the dish with a bit of texture.

The Goddess Wrap with dressing, seasoned chicken, romaine, tomato, cucumber, pickled onion, avocado and bacon. Photo by Eli Cribari.

My partner had the chef’s special, shrimp Mornay pasta, with perfectly blackened shrimp and a delectable sauce (though I had a minor preference for a heartier noodle over angel hair).

The shrimp Mornay pasta at Shirley’s Temple. Photo by Eli Cribari.

Dessert intrigued and satisfied, with a chocolate mousse cake adorned by a surprising pink bourbon caramel sauce, accompanied by a rich minty Irish Cream latte.

Shirley’s Temple isn’t just a restaurant; it’s an oasis of creativity, flavor and hospitality. It offers fun, special occasions, including comedy open mic night on Thursdays.

Despite its discreet location, it’s a culinary journey worth embarking on. So, mark it on your map.

Shirley’s Temple is at 2420 E. 28th St., Signal Hill. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.