Sweet Tooth founder Chalandra "Missy" Strickland discovered her talent for baking and pastry decorating in 2004, just before her daughter's seventh birthday. With little money to spare, she baked a cake shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants, and the rest was history: her daughter's delight upon seeing it gave her the inspiration to continue perfecting her trade.
Sweet Tooth's selection of cupcake flavors runs the gamut from traditional red velvet to unconventional Bacon-licious, and several of each occupy a gleaming glass case at the café's entrance. During the day, sunlight illuminates the playful lime ceiling and cushy detached backboards of the café as patrons sip espresso drinks, trawl the Internet, and nibble on sandwiches or pastries. As night falls, the café slips on a more glamorous feel as Sweet Tooth's plated dessert menu becomes available. Adult taste buds delight in alcohol-infused cupcakes ¬and the more complex flavors of the Turtle Delight, a caramel-and-pecan brownie supporting a generous scoop of ice cream.
Sweet Tooth's baking sages also educate blossoming bakers on decorating and desserts. Dessert-tasting sessions delight with 8–10 bite-size confections, and decorating lessons help finesse frosting dexterity as students drape cake stand-ins in fondant and adorn cupcakes with tiny flowers or weekend to-do lists.
Deliteful Events may have the word "lite" in its name, but its menus have plenty of opportunity for indulgence. Bakers decorate and layer cakes for occasions ranging from kids' birthdays to weddings, each with a huge number of flavor, filling, and icing options. Those range from the homey—applesauce cake and cream-cheese frosting, for instance—to intriguing gourmet blends such as white-chocolate banana cake. Served in a cozy cafe and at catered events, the savory side of the menu holds juicy sandwiches, classic salads, and comfort cuisine such as meatloaf.
Three values form the foundation of Kenley Waller's business: great food, great service, and community. The food service veteran's commitment to these pillars have earned him awards, not only from the restaurants he's managed, but from the Boy Scouts of America (Golden Eagle Award), South DeKalb Rotary Club (Rotarian of the Year), and the Georgia Secretary of State (Outstanding Georgia Citizen).
But for visitors to Kenley's Restaurant, the proof of Kenley's dedication is something they can taste. Breakfast and lunch menus spotlight American comfort food with a bit of a soul food twist. Along with croissant sandwiches, omelets, burgers, and sandwiches, buffets feature fried chicken, fried okra, and biscuits smothered in gravy. Kenley and his team also specialize in catering, and over the years have accrued a client list that includes Macy's, General Mills, and the Red Cross.
At Big Kahuna, recently named one of the "Best new restaurants of 2013" by Jezebel Magazine, the surf culture of Southern California meets the warm embrace of Southern hospitality. Retro long boards hang from the restaurant's walls, and alfresco dining—with its fresh breezes and sounds of nature—evokes soaking up a sunset from a Malibu beach house. Just as Big Kahuna's ambiance blurs the lines between cultures, so, too, does its menu. Diners can reel in all-natural burgers, steak churrasco, rice bowls with grilled veggies, baja fajitas, and fresh seafood, including ahi tuna, or imbibe beach-inspired cocktails such as surf-tinis and margaritas. Their emphasis on hospitality extends beyond the restaurant, with two hours of validated parking available during lunch and five hours during dinner, allowing guests enough parking time to eat dinner and see a show or game.
It's the very first dictum on Cafe Circa's list of house rules: "Try something new. You won?t be disappointed." An easy rule to enforce, since the cafe's menu makes newness hard to avoid. Familiar southern comfort foods surprise over-it taste buds with a modern burst of Caribbean, Latin, French, and Thai flavors. A whole fried snapper arrives alongside white corn grits. Mussels simmer in a broth tinged with coconut, basil, and lime. Even the crispy quail and waffles tops its unusual savory-sweet pairing with a combination of truffle butter, blue cheese, and balsamic syrup.
Novelty pervades Cafe Circa's activities as well. Depending on the night, the air above the high-topped wooden tables might fill with the fruit-flavored smoke of hookahs or music both live and DJ'ed. For an even more festive nighttime experience, the staff occasionally invites guests to venture up to the rooftop, where they can gaze out at the historic buildings of the Old Fourth Ward and the irrational architecture of the Old ?2nd Ward.
With her Easy-Bake Oven, Charlita Varner created her first sweet treat at age 8. Though her equipment has been upgraded since, her childhood passion for baking has never waned. Drawing on skills she learned from her mother, a self-taught baker, Charlita blends eggs, sugar, and butter into customizable cakes whose designs have ranged from chessboards to sombreros.
Her visual flair doesn't sacrifice taste—Buttersweet Bakery's flavors include vanilla, lemon coconut, and key lime, whose recipe Bon Appetit featured on its website. The magazine isn't the only media outlet to stand up and take note of Charlita's work. Her cakes have also basked in the spotlight on TLC's A Wedding Story and delighted guests at the BET Awards.