At Two Chefs Cafe & Catering, wait staff carries upscale twists on American traditions past the bar area to an expansive patio that’s surrounded by a picturesque wrought-iron fence. Inside, hosts lead diners to seats amid rustic brick walls and decorative wall pieces that organize bottles of French wine by their region. The kitchen staff makes classic cuisine from scratch for weekly events—such as the Friday fish fry and Sunday brunch—or intimate meals. They coat their six signature pasta dishes with one of five sauces and plate hearty helpings of canadian baby-back ribs. The cozy atmosphere grows more festive on weekends, when live music permeates the space and drowns out the play-by-play announcer in your head.
For 28 years, the staff at Christy's Pancake House have worked to replicate the laidback vibe of a meal at home amidst bubbling fish tanks and a wall sign that reads "Keep Your Kitchen Clean––Eat Out." In its turquoise booths, tables populate with warm breakfast pancakes, three-egg omelets, and full-pound burgers from the menu of hearty diner fare. Forks spool Italian-style alfredo pastas beside plates of steaming pork chops and amply stuffed greek gyros. While polishing off a piece of pie plucked from one of the glass display cases, guests can remind the server that it's their birthday for a sundae of choice on the house, or remind a significant other for an awkward meal of excuses and apologies.
La Blondina Bakery's confection-crafting owner, Agnieszka Klepacki, pleases palates of all persuasions with café-style lunches and delectable desserts. Tarts tickle tongue buds with a choice of blueberry, pear, or almond filling ($14 for 8”; $16 for 9”; $18 for 10”), and chocolate-chip cookies ($1.50) and cupcakes ($1.50) furnish guests with bite-sized snacks for bribing hyperactive children or bosses. In addition to sweets, the expert bakers handcraft artisan breads from scratch, filling the store with the alluring scent of french bread ($2.49) and beer bread ($2.49). Sandwiches quell more substantial appetites with toothsome toppings such as roasted veggies, turkey, and italian meats ($4.95).
Bakers at Cookies Fresco draw on Old-World recipes to craft creative, Italian-inspired confections from fresh eggs, nuts, sugar, and butter. Carefully selected packaging preserves the crisp crunch of cookies by the pound, including buttery biscotti and authentic peach, apricot, and nutella kolachky. Confectioners can also customize cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, and black-tie refrigerator warmings and concoct sugar-free items upon request.
Creamy frozen yogurt, fresh fruit mix-ins, and healthy toppings such as almonds, granola, and shredded coconut make Yogen Früz a source of unlimited fresh flavors. Yogurt artists mix customers’ custom creations—such as piña colada mix with smooth-blended pineapple yogurt, or apple pie sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs—before their very eyes. Along with such quasi-decadent options, the company’s 1,300 worldwide outposts also offer low-fat, non-fat probiotic yogurts, and fresh fruit sorbets. Every mix is low in fat, a good source of vitamins and fiber, and one of the only known sources of the essential nutrient frostiness.
The sweets at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory taste all the sweeter after witnessing the hard and delicate work that goes into their creation. During engaging visits, staffers entertain guests by hand-dipping crisp apples into burbling vats of caramel or fashioning silky bricks of fudge atop traditional marble slabs. They don't just tease the eyes, though. They also treat tongues to free samples, and even lead chocolate-tasting classes in which they provide mint- and sea-salt-infused samples of chocolate from around the world.
In addition to tastings, chocolate-making classes encourage customer participation, with instructors offering up the fresh ingredients stored on site to students who wish to learn the fine art of chocolate making. During these classes, they walk guests through the delicate process of making clusters infused with nuts or fruit, or melting milk or dark chocolate to fill a mold.
Over the past four decades, Seattle’s Best Coffee has built strong, ethical relationships with coffee farmers around the globe. Taste testers sample each coffee shipment a minimum of three times before putting it into rotation, which is an effective way to ensure quality flavor and to stay awake for five days straight without blinking. Other parts of their process are equally perfectionistic: once a blend joins the repertoire, it's classified into one of five levels of intensity—ranging from mild and light to dark and bold—so that customers can swiftly select the flavor profile they prefer. Before they're packaged for retail or ground and brewed in shops across the country, the beans take a long, slow tumble in a roaster whose heat is controlled via a carefully calibrated roasting curve. In store, the toasty base might be topped by hazelnut cream, caramel, or sprinkles and paired with quick-serve breakfast sandwiches and baked goods.