A sign depicting a giant ice cream cone hangs in front of Sugar Shack, like a beacon to passing sweet teeth. Patrons step up to the window to order taffy-dipped apples rolled in chopped candy, cinnamon-roasted peanuts, and funnel cake sundaes—golden-brown carriages of batter delivering vanilla soft serve, whipped cream, cherries, and toppings such as caramel or chopped pecans. Groups can spirit ice cream mouthward via cones or spoons at round sidewalk tables crowned by multi-colored umbrellas.
Like many people, Kenneth Geary had a childhood nickname. “Skinnie Piggy.” The moniker was bestowed upon him by his grandmother due to his large appetite and high metabolism. The name has stuck, as Kenneth and co-owner, Monica Rodriguez, have not only dubbed their sweets shop "Skinnie Piggy" but have also incorporated its meaning into the concept of the store. Executive chef Elizabeth McCabe handcrafts a daily menu of freshly-baked pies, poundcakes, and cupcakes, most of which come in Hog (huge), Skinnie (regular), and Piglet (mini) sizes, an innovation that gained praise from ABC7, Chicago Magazine, and Pop Sugar. Amid pink polka dotted walls decorated with local artwork, customers can dispense gourmet treats such as Jelly Belly’s from clear containers, and peruse more than 25 types of nostalgic candies, from Fun Dip to Zotz Fizz. The sweets boutique also caters special occasion parties and business meetings with confectionary bouquets and candy boxes.
As one of the last Colonial buildings remaining in New York, Fraunces Tavern gives patrons a sense of what life was like nearly a century before America’s nationhood. Built in 1719 as a merchant’s residence, the building was purchased by tavern keeper Samuel Fraunces in 1762. It soon became a hotbed of pre- and post-Revolution activity. This includes a visit from George Washington in 1783, during which he stood in The Long Room and delivered a farewell address to officers of the Continental Army. Today, Fraunces Tavern functions as both a museum and a restaurant operated by Dublin-based The Porterhouse Brewing Co. Preserved to retain its original Colonial appearance, the dining room is defined by its plank floors, stalwart wood tables, and bench seating. At the bar, brass dispensers pour microbrews such as the Plain Porter, which has won multiple distinctions from The Brewing Industry International Awards. The Dingle Whiskey Bar, a secluded part of the tavern, invites whiskey aficionados to lay down their muskets, take off their tricorn hats, and relax in front of a crackling fire.
Described by bon appétit as "in a word, lovely," the sweet creations at Lovely Bake Shop are the brainchild of husband and wife team Bob and Gina Hartwig. The two French Pastry School Graduates swung open the doors to their cozy Milwaukee avenue space in 2007. Flanked by turquoise walls and decorated with rustic farmhouse furniture, the "airy, warm café" is dotted with vintage floral prints and communal seating, where guests dig into slices of banana nut pound cake, savory quiche, and their signature 4-inch pies. Most recently, the couple has embarked upon Bakin’ & Eggs—a breakfast and brunch spot in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, and Lovely, too, a second bakery in Edgewater.
Parked on a high ledge next to a bust of Ronald Reagan wearing a party hat, a miniature DeLorean patrols The Wormhole, a sit-down coffee shop that doles out caffeine and pop-culture kitsch in equal doses. For children of the 1980s, the cafe delivers a "wormhole" experience, surrounding them in emblems of an era: Nintendo games (available for play), ET collectibles, plush gremlins, and Star Wars doodads. The menu also smacks of the 80s, although it frequently changes to accommodate seasonal tastes. In recent times, baristas have fused espresso with cocoa puffs, and dished out donuts encrusted with Fruity Pebbles. Select beverages come with a Nilla wafer-chaser. As for edibles, Fritz Pastries supplies homemade tarts (a gourmet variation of the kind that come in silver foil) and other handheld treats.
A peek into the window of iCream Café reveals a scene straight out of a science fiction film: machines with gleaming metal tubes and smooth white surfaces shoot out billowing clouds of liquid nitrogen. But despite their robotic appearance, these devices work toward a decidedly human-friendly end: the nitrogen freezes fresh milk, cane syrup, and other ingredients, instantly creating a variety of rich frozen desserts. Visitors to the Wicker Park spot can opt to create ice cream, frozen yogurt, or milkshakes in flavors such as butter pecan, curry, and white chocolate, with toppings ranging from fresh fruit to candy. For those looking for a warm treat, iCream Café?s dessert technicians concoct comforting bowls of hot pudding.
For nearly half a century, Geja’s Café has kept the embers of European communal dining aglow with its versatile menu of fondue flights. In the glimmer of the candlelit dining room, diners kindle sweet and meaty morsels over simmering pots of gruyere cheese, vegetable oil, and belgian chocolate. Live classical and flamenco guitar music accompanies eaters as they peruse a wine list of more than 50 vintages from local, international, and interplanetary wineries.