Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
The Filling Station independently serves locally roasted espresso and coffee and a scrumptious selection of breakfast and lunch bites in a garage-themed café. Browse the Union Hill menu for the Filling Station's caffeinated concoctions, with espresso roasted from Broadway Café and Roastery and coffee from Oddly Correct Coffee Roasters. For breakfast, the Filling Station offers a plethora of baked goods, from blackberry peach muffins ($1.80) to freshly baked cinnamon rolls ($2.25). Lunchtime brings the killer veggie wrap ($7.50), packed with spinach, tomato, onion, carrots, and more. The Westport menu is more compact, but you can still pick up an apple walnut Danish ($2.50) or almond marzipan croissant ($2.50) in the drive-thru before heading out to hunt the evasive galloping fig tree.
Break from the rapid beating of seasonal gingerbread batters and take refuge in a European-style café that has a variety of Thanksgiving meal-ending stomach-pleasers. For $8, today's Groupon gets you $16 worth of freshly baked bakery bites at Jay WaLe’s Bakery-Bistro, named 2009’s Best Bakery by The Pitch, and, unlike most bakeries, it's not also the headquarters of a cookie-gang.Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
A three-time cancer survivor and mother of three, the owner of Naughty Bites needed something to make life a little bit sweeter. After tasting a traditional cake pop, and doing a bit of research, she was convinced she could improve upon the bite-sized treat. And so, she compiled recipes that emphasized natural, high-quality ingredients?think Meyer lemons, Sunkist oranges, farm fresh eggs, and fresh fruit?and created cakes-on-a-stick that were so moist and decadent, she named them Naughty Bites. The truffle-like treats are rolled, dipped, and decorated by hand, and come in a multitude of flavors that are anything but boring. The aptly-named No Plain Jane, for example, is a light vanilla cake with Italian vanilla cream cheese frosting dipped in white chocolate, just like the cake pops appearing on the Paris runways. The Chubby Hubby features a moist fudge center dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with peanuts and pretzels and drizzled with sea salt caramel.
The purveyors of literary pleasure at Signs of Life enable learning and leisure through an expansive collection of printed-word wares, delectable café snacks, and local art pieces. Dabble in fiction with Fyodor Dostoevsky's classic novel, Crime and Punishment ($5.99), or acclimate yourself with American history by reading David McCullough's 1776, a riveting account of how George Washington led almost 2,000 men into battle to defeat the Duke Blue Devils on a last-second three-pointer by Paul Revere ($14.99, paperback). Ecclesiastically curious guests can peruse one of many theologic selections, such as Augustine for Armchair Theologians by Stephen Cooper ($13.99), while sipping a tasty bean-based beverage at Signs of Life’s convivial café. For even more aesthetic enjoyment, art-magnets can scurry over to Signs of Life’s adjoining art gallery, featuring the work of more than a dozen local and national artists in a charming space.
Z's satisfies caffeine cravings and general rumblings with an abundance of organic drinks and treats at its two locations. Take an aromatic journey through the 12 bulk bins of whole beans roasted on-site each week ($9.99+/lb.), or sidle up to a specialty drink, such as the Rocky Raccoon, a frappé fused with chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel ($4.10 for a big). Non-joe options include a tasty assortment of smoothies (sans high-fructose corn syrup) and tea, in addition to hearty breakfast chomps. Guilt-free sips and sudden urges to commune with nature are all courtesy of Z's Divine Espresso's commitment to sustainable practices, such as recycling used coffee grounds as free fertilizer for local farmers and gardeners.