There's a place in Naperville where the train station resides just down the street from a medieval castle, inhabited by a society of young pirates and princesses. In a nearby oasis, a council of giants confers over bitter potions and sweet nectars until, at their leisure, they scoop up their diminutive wards and carry them off to their home kingdoms. This haven, Cafe N Play, maintains the balance between playtime and parenthood with a vast tract filled with toys and play structures, all adjacent to a WiFi-equipped lounge serving fair-trade coffee, organic drinks, and foodstuffs friendly to any diet. Kids 6 and younger hone their imaginations on wooden trains and a town of intricately detailed buildings. The kid-friendly staff also hosts birthday parties, furnishing private rooms and necessities such as pizza, invites, and utensils.
Since its inception in 1999, Adagio Teas has filled the cups of its ever-growing customer base with farm-fresh gourmet teas harvested from across the globe. Seasoned sippers and new tea drinkers alike gather around the fragrant vapors of Adagio's expansive selection, which includes thousands of unique green, chai, and herbal teas. In addition to its stockpile of potables, Adagio Teas puts an innovative spin on tea ware with a varied collection of ceramic sets, Asian-inspired pots, and electric kettles that purr when plugged in or tickled gently with unused leaves. Adagio Teas' products fill the virtual shelves of its online store, and can also be found in many gourmet and health-food shops.
At B Happy Cafe, the process is simple: Customers pick a cup or a cone, and then fill it with their preferred frozen-yogurt flavor—or a customized blend of flavors. Next, they load it with toppings—and there are more than 40 to choose from, including gummy bears, Oreos, fresh fruit, and seasonal options. And in keeping with its simple approach to treats, B Happy Cafe doesn't mess with weighing the creations; instead, treats are priced by Spoonfull (small), Cup Full (medium), and Wonderful (large). Along with the dozens of frozen-yogurt flavors and limitless self-serve creations, guests can also order gourmet cupcakes, smoothies, and espresso drinks.
Everything about Eggsperience Pancakes & Cafe is bright, warm, and sunny. Natural light floods the restaurant's eight locations, which sprinkle across Chicago and its suburbs like powdered sugar over a slice of french toast. Orange and yellow walls surround every dining room, and some locations have fireplaces, which make ideal places to sip Ghirardelli hot chocolate or espresso beverages. Even the food is colorful. Fresh fruits?either in solid or juice form?complement dishes such as the Mediterranean omelette, baked in the French style and filled with a vibrant medley of spinach, tomatoes, olives, and imported feta cheese.
Those omelettes, like what most of what comes from Eggsperience's kitchen, start with grade-AA, farm-fresh eggs. The chefs work magic with those eggs, whipping them into frittatas and poaching them for five different "Eggsquisite Benedicts." They also use them to create their signature pancake batter, but in this case, eggs are only the beginning. Strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits mix into the pancakes.
The creativity shown with those pancakes and egg dishes extends to dozens of other breakfast items, and diners could spend countless mornings at Eggsperience without boring their taste buds. The chefs don't stop at breakfast, either. They simply transition to lunch, when they grill Cajun avocado burgers and pair gourmet chicken-salad sandwiches with a soup of the day.
In a homey diner setting with stained glass and a large mural that depicts a small town, patrons perk up for the day with PC's menu of European and American breakfast and lunch fare. True to its name, PC’s offers a diverse roster of classic pancakes, which can come flecked with bacon or chocolate chips; baked with fillings such as spiced apples and peaches; or spread thin as crepes and sewn onto the elbows of sports jackets.
Not content to let pancakes hoard all the oven territory, thick-baked omelets jostle for space with hearty fillings such as portabella mushrooms, red peppers, and cheese. Fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice make for a refreshing quaff, and cups of Kona coffee—specially blended for the café—send toasty aromas steaming into the air alongside carafes of real whipping cream.
Sandwiches and salads populate a lunchier section of the menu, alongside burgers such as the towering Lemont-ster burger: dual half-pound patties draped in cheddar, toasted onion strings, and thousand-island dressing.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.