From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
La Fiesta Restaurante Mexicano’s classic dishes have earned the eatery a long-standing award proudly displayed on the website: Best Mexican Restaurant nine years in a row, as voted by readers of the Times-News. At the start of each workday, the restaurant’s chefs fry the popular tortilla chips and whip up bowls of salsa. Then they get to work on such dishes as chicken simmered in a chipotle cream, char-grilled steak tacos, and spinach burritos.
Despite its rather insistent name, this second-generation pizza purveyor, serves its signature brick-oven pizzas alongside a variety of Italian dishes, and heaping helpings of friendly local flair. Starting with a crust that falls somewhere between thin and traditional hand-tossed, Just Pizza cooks each savory pie to-order, using fresh ingredients, house-made sauce, and premium mozzarella cheese sourced from only the most outwardly affectionate cows. Dress a large (14") cheese pizza ($10.75) with your favorite add-ons such as sausage (+ $1.25), pineapple (+ $1.25), hot dogs (+ $1.25), or a smaller cheese pizza (+ $9.75). Or, feed an entire army of slice-slingers with the five pound supreme pizza ($19.50), sporting supporting sustenance in the form of extra cheese, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, beef, sausage, and pepperoni. For diners looking to dine beyond the realm of dough disks, Just Pizza complements its circular comestibles with a toothsome array of fresh salads (starting at $4), baked pastas ($5.50+), and calzones ($5.75+). Because it passed on the opportunity to call itself "Just Tables", Just Pizza is a carry-out only facility, arming patrons with piles of hot, aromatic eatables, and then sending them on their way to feast in the comfort of their own homes.
Carolina’s sculpts and ices a cavalcade of sugary specialties for its elegant wedding and birthday cakes. Sweet teeth chatter over a platter of fluffy cupcakes ($18/doz.) or a round molded 10-inch cake with three layers of buttercream icing ($40) perfect for bribing coworkers or to use as snipe-hunting bait. Patrons select from 14 available flavors of traditional and pound cake, including marble, lemon chiffon, red velvet, and piña colada. Experienced pastry artists smother the flavorful concoctions in smooth chocolate or vanilla buttercream icing, then impart helpful nuggets of parental wisdom before unleashing them into the all-consuming world.
At Yo Zone, guests help themselves to a dozen daily non-fat or low-fat flavors of frozen yogurt and more than 50 sprinkleable toppings in a festive dessert-dinery. Each day's varieties, posted on the shop's Facebook page, range from classics such as Tahitian vanilla and triple chocolate to more inventive concoctions such as blue cotton candy and caramel custard. Visitors can load up their cups with as many toppings as they like, including Oreos, gummi bears, gummi ascots, fresh fruit, and several kinds of nuts. With everything priced on a per-weight basis ($0.39/oz.), it's an ideal place for budget-conscious diners or confectionery economists studying the fluctuating market value of a single chocolate chip. Load up on 12 ounces of cookies and cream yogurt with rainbow sprinkles, butterscotch chips, and cheesecake bites ($4.68) or take home a 15-ounce cocoa concoction of triple-chocolate yogurt with chocolate sprinkles and chocolate chips ($5.85).