Tidbits Bakery's bakers concoct more than 18 cupcake flavors each day, all of which are made in small batches so bakers can spend time inspecting each treat. Flavors range from classic red velvet to pink lemonade—a lemon cupcake with cherry drizzle and cherry-almond icing. The Happy B-Day vanilla cupcake hoards confetti sprinkles within its buttercream filling and tops itself with marshmallow icing, and the Black Pearl places dark-chocolate-frosting top hat on a cream-cheese-filled chocolate cupcake. Tidbits Bakery also crafts custom cakes for weddings, birthday parties, and not-guilty verdicts, along with cake pops, cookies, and more.
To get to the other side of the world, just walk west on 16th Avenue over the Cedar River. Here, Czech Village brims with the sights and sounds of Central Europe, including restaurants, antique shops, and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library. The neighborhood was originally settled by Bohemians in the mid-19th century, but 1903 marked another milestone: Sykora Bakery opened its doors, filling the air with the smell of fresh-baked rye bread and pastries. In the decades since, it's turned out kolacky and countless other handmade treats, ultimately forcing the U.S. government to overturn its prohibition on after-dinner snacks.
Today, the bakers continue to show up early each morning and hand-make traditional Czech goods, although they have expanded into some new territories. Alongside custom cakes and other desserts, visitors find rye bread made from scratch and a "bohemian hamburger," which is so popular that it graces one of Sykora Bakery's souvenir t-shirts.
Every day, Orange Leaf’s self-serve fountains dispense fresh batches of nutritious frozen yogurt in more than 60 varieties. In the sprightly lime-green and burnt-orange parlor, customers fill their bowls or bottomless magician hats with flavors ranging from pomegranate to caramel to wedding cake, laying a dulcet foundation for all manner of toppings from the buffet. There, they adorn their creamy treats with fresh fruits, nuts, and syrups. Unlike other ice creameries that try to confuse health-conscious customers by listing nutrition information in arcane units of measurement, such as "a smidge of calories" or "an earful of saturated fat," Orange Leaf prominently displays its yogurt’s impressive low-fat, low-sugar stats.
Wielding a wooden spoon, copper kettle, and century-old recipes, The Chocolate Haus handcrafts an array of tasty goodies from natural, preservative-free ingredients. Visitors gaze through a wide glass partition as the chocolaterie’s signature fudge, in flavors such as old-fashioned chocolate, rocky road, or vanilla pecan, is mixed from scratch. Patrons can lend these three together in a custom box ($23) or explore other realms of temptation with a half-pound of ganache-filled cappuccino truffles ($12) or chocolate-coated s’mores ($21). The shop's well-known walking sticks, featuring a pretzel rolled in caramel, coated in pecans, and dipped in milk chocolate, call to adventure-seeking taste buds ($21). For dentists who practice what they preach, The Chocolate Haus boasts a hefty collection of sugar-free treats, ranging from almond butter crunch ($11) to milk chocolate-, pecan-, and caramel-filled turtles ($11).
“I really enjoy the people and their warmth,” Gary Scott told a reporter for the North Liberty Leader. “They are so friendly here.” Scott was speaking about the locals in Ely, where his eponymous restaurant--Scott’s Sandwich Cafe--just moved. From this new location, Scott and his staff continue to combine fresh ingredients atop grilled ciabatta, marble rye, and wheat-berry bread, but now hand their creations to neighbors instead of mall-goers. Their mouthwatering sandwiches create a lunchtime rush as workers unplug computer cords from their foreheads and head to the intimate café for medleys of roasted pork, smoked ham, and honey mustard or grilled chicken and bleu cheese. Also popular are Scott’s new twists on old favorites, such as a grilled PB&J or a classic Reuben enlivened with turkey. In addition to sandwiches, the café dishes up quesadillas and salads, and its ice cream and smoothies keep customers cool on summer days filled with walking over coals.