From the bakers who stoke hot ovens every morning to the baristas who brew imported Lavazza beans, Caffè Torino strives to capture the warmth and flavors of Turin, Italy in their intimate café. Piping-hot cups of coffee pair perfectly with flaky croissants, delicate polenta and nutella cookies, and delicious amaretto flan. During weekday happy hour feasts, guests sip wine while munching on kale chips or savoring small plates of crostini. Main courses tempt diners with crunchy-chewy caprese sandwiches or rustic salads made with seasonal combinations of beans, root veggies, greens, and pasta. Bakers labor at hot ovens every day to create delectable pastries, cookies, biscotti, croissants, and much more. Like a teacup that constantly reminds you to lift your pinky, Caffè Torino cultivates high dining culture by covering walls with canvases from local artists and hosting Italian lessons from Percorso Italiano.
A grilled cheese sandwich's fixings are pretty straightforward, but Tiny Ninja Cafe's menu spells them out, just in case: "Cheese + Cheese + Cheese." That dash of dry humor stands out on a menu that's serious about local food, from vegan scrambles with spinach, mushrooms, and imitation bacon, to sandwiches of smoked salmon and housemade pesto. To wash it all down, there's beer, wine, espresso, and smoothies such as the "liquid meal"—a blend of bananas, apple juice, blueberries, and avocado.
Food and drink aren't the only enticements on hand. The cafe's weekly live entertainment lineup includes musicians, DJs, and open mic nights. Free WiFi keeps you tethered to your email, and there are free Spanish classes every Monday.
You could call brothers George and Marcos Trejo artists. They make their small-batch, handcrafted chocolate bars and truffles right in their Green Lake storefront and transform their tasty treats into edible works of the imagination. What makes their chocolates unique is partly the high quality of the cocoa they use and partly the creative flavor combinations they come up with. On any given day, they might be infusing heavy dark chocolate blends with the citrusy tang of orange oil or mixing their truffles with the flavor of bourbon pecan or Mexican mango. In their store, they complement their cocoa-rich wares with other artful treats, such as small-batch ice cream—coincidentally, da Vinci’s first medium for the Mona Lisa.
At Opaline Café & Bakery, chefs aren’t into creating heavy dinner fare. That’s why when three o’clock rolls around, they close up shop and end the day’s work of crafting light, healthy sandwiches, salads, and breakfast dishes. Their simple menu focuses on the natural flavors of fruits and vegetables, with steel-cut oatmeal getting a sweet touch from warm cinnamon peaches, and salads brightened up with roasted beets, slices of apples, and crumbles of gouda. Clients can create their own meals by pairing cookies or soup with half-sized portions of the shop’s sandwiches, which come filled with vegetarian-friendly portions of cheese and veggies or deli meats that burst with flavor like a piñata filled with gravy.
Conceived in 2010 as a way to expose vibrant grassroots coffee culture to more people, Northwest Coffee Festival gathers local roasters, artisan chocolatiers, and other comestible makers for a weekend of food, drink, and demonstrations. During the two-day event, the pristinely appointed showrooms of the Seattle Design Center fill with the aroma of hot coffee, stirred by moving crowds who wander from booth to booth to witness artisans' brewing demonstrations or sample treats. In addition to coffee, the festival features beer, wine, and a holiday gift show where patrons can pick up the ideal trinket to stuff a stocking or booby-trap a sock.
After more than 25 years in corporate America, Charell moved to the small business world by opening Firefly Cafe & Creperie. Her cozy, artwork-adorned cafe fills daily with the inviting aromas of sweet and savory crepes, into which she piles everything from apple-smoked bacon to dulce de leche. She even whips up gluten-free and vegan versions including breakfast crepes with tofu scrambles and dessert crepes with sliced almonds and cashew cream. Along with beverages from her espresso bar, Charell complements mains with organic smoothies and juices chockfull of healthy fixings such as mango and kale.