More than just a simple dairy dispensary, Eco Yogurt Lounge pairs sweet treats with environmental stewardship in a space that’s more club than ice cream shack. More than 30 flavors of traditional frozen yogurt, including wild strawberry lemonade, peanut butter, and blueberry tart, play well with sugar-free, tart and agave-sweetened varieties, many of which also contain vitamin and protein boosts to replenish bodies with nutrients. Once patrons have selected their swirls, they can head over to a series of small alcoves, where a toppings bar with self-serve cookie, candy, and fruit pieces awaits sweet inspiration. Yogurt in hand, they can sit at one of the modern white benches or plush chairs as brilliant LED lights reflect a wall of color-changing waves across the room. In addition to placating sweet teeth, Eco Yogurt Lounge also allays consciences, supporting earth awareness by using recycled materials and donating a percentage of the proceeds to ecologically friendly organizations.
Passion for Pastry's executive chef, Alethea Hickman, forayed into the world of baked sweets at the tender age of 6 and went on to create the world's largest cupcake according to the Guinness Book of World Records. She now channels those decades of experience into bakery shelves lined with a variety of desserts, decadent cakes, and 48 flavors of frosting-bedecked cupcakes. Alethea molds tiered confections for special occasions or designer cupcakes that combine fondant and frosting to emulate a variety of objects including animals or logos. Dessert displays rotate daily, parading confections crowned in toasted marshmallows, Fruit Loops, and chocolate-covered strawberries.
In 1932, Carvel Ice Cream & Bakery's founder, Greek-born Tom Carvel, sold his first ice-cream treat from inside a truck. Since then, Carvel Ice Cream has expanded to more than 500 locations across the country, churning out fresh ice cream daily, from football-shaped or strawberry-flavored ice-cream cakes to hot-fudge sundaes and premium soft-serve ice cream. The confection gurus at Carvel also offer a fundraising program for local organizations and competitive cow-milking teams.
Orange Leaf's self-serve frozen-yogurt stations tempt dessert lovers with a line-up of more than 55 flavors, including gluten-free and no-sugar-added options, and 35 toppings. Tongues can traipse across timeless frozen-yogurt flavors such as classic tart, cherry, and chocolate, or less-trodden tastescapes such as peanut butter, red velvet, and gingerbread ($0.49/oz.). Then guests bedeck desserts with mounds of toppings, adorning their yogurt with such options as marshmallows, chewy mochi, and fresh fruits similar to those worn by generals in the Oompa Loompa army. The staff weighs completed creations on a scale before guests dive into their edible masterpieces spoon first.
For John Offerdahl, the aroma of meat sizzling on the grill stirs memories of his family's barbecues in rural Wisconsin. Even when John grew up and became a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, he couldn't escape that enticing smell?it would waft into the stadium from fans tailgating outside and the mascots who secretly stuffed their costumes with cheeseburgers. So it was only natural that, after retiring from football, John would once again find himself at the grill when he and his wife Lynn opened Offerdahl's Cafe Grill in 2000. The couple were no strangers to the restaurant business; they had previously owned a chain of bagel shops. This venture, however, would prove more ambitious?they devised menus of classic American cuisine that could be served up fast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a focus on fresh-grilled fare.
Today, Offerdahl's Cafe Grill has expanded to seven locations, but its flavorful, no-frills meals remain the same. "Johnny O's Famous Bagels" still take the starring roles during breakfast, waking diners up with flavors like cinnamon crumb, pumpernickel, and fruit-and-nut. But once breakfast turns to lunch and dinner, the grill takes over. Chefs swiftly cook up steak, chicken, and salmon, serving the proteins over rice, pasta, or salad with homemade dressings. They also grill chicken sandwiches and burgers, in a nod to the caf?'s backyard barbecue roots.
With red-checkered curtains, wood-paneled walls, and electric lanterns over the tables, Tom Sawyer Restaurant & Pastry Shop evokes the feel of a homey general store. To accompany the frontier-like ambiance, the cooks spend their mornings whisking together hearty breakfasts of scrambled eggs and buttermilk pancakes with enough syrup to float a log cabin. Although the restaurant's lunch specials rotate daily, certain homestyle favorites—including orders of fried chicken and open-faced turkey sandwiches—regularly fly out to tables until 2 p.m. when the kitchen closes.