You won’t find stale cookies and days-old cakes within the glass display case at Sugar Darlin’s Sweets and Such. In fact, you won’t even find a display case. That’s because Sugar Darlin’s is an online sweet shop, helmed by loving couple and resident bakers Candece and Greg. The duo makes each of their decadent treats to order, from batches of red velvet whoopee pies to signature 3-D cakes customized for special events. They use an old family recipe to craft their decadent pie crust and pour more than a dozen fillings, such as pumpkin, cherry, and blueberry, inside. Crust-less desserts also reign supreme at the shop in the form of cakes and cheesecakes in nearly 30 different flavors, such as carrot cake, banana pudding, and sweet-potato streusel. Because they make everything by scratch and by themselves, Candece and Greg require at least 48 hours notice or a time machine for most orders.
To help readers venture beyond classic children’s tomes such as Dr. Seuss and Last Exit to Brooklyn, Blue Manatee will happily introduce you to the latest in li’l lit. Escape to the city with Brown Rabbit in a new title by Natalie Russell, or investigate the adventures of Origami Yoda with a pint-sized padawan Star Wars fan. Slightly older readers, meanwhile, can stock up on award winners such as Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, a macabre re-imagining of The Jungle Book. Check out the list of recently released titles, or peruse the shelves to find books for babies (prices vary). Blue Manatee also offers a unique gift selection of Uglydolls ($6–$22) and puzzles (starting at $9.99). Blue Manatee is open daily.
Essencha's leisurely tea lunch begins with your selection of either a hot pot of tea or a shot of matcha (finely milled green tea). The tea house lets you choose from over 70 varieties of high-quality blacks, oolongs, greens, whites, rooibos, herbals, and organic flavors. Essencha's passionate staff of tea-totalers will help you navigate this voluminous variety until you find the tea you never knew you craved. Next, a soup of the day or miso soup stretches tongue tendons, followed by a fruit salad or a café salad with seasonal greens, veggies, dried fruit, pine nuts, and lemon vinaigrette. After you fill up on finger sandwiches with your non-teacupped free hand, enjoy a scone paired with clotted cream and jam. A cupcake or triple-chocolate-chunk brownie caps off a meal fit for tea tycoons and tea-drinking raccoons alike.
Wake up with dishes from Giminetti's breakfast menu. Fork through a fluffy stack of syrup-drenched pancakes ($3.50 for stack of three) or opt for a cheesy omelette ($4) with melted sharp cheddar. Brownies ($2), white-chocolate macadamia-nut cookies ($0.75), and monstrous Danishes ($1.50) tempt sweet teeth. For midday meals, try the vedgewich ($5.50), an array of tempting veggies (grilled onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers) and savory provolone plopped between slices of multigrain rustica and slathered with a liberal dose of horseradish mayo. Subs, hoagies, burgers, and paninis appease meatier palates.
The creative culinarians at Aquarius Star’s Om Café transform organic, local ingredients into savory salads, sandwiches, and wraps that pair perfectly with fair-trade coffee and tea. The menu offers meat-free munchers a slew of vegetarian and vegan options, including the shareable organic hummus and veggie plate ($8.75), Om’s grilled blackened-tofu wrap ($8.75), and the Om salad, topped with raw nuts and homemade lemon-garlic dressing ($9.75). Om Café's Double Decker turkey sandwich ($9.25) delights eco-conscious carnivores with its blend of free-range turkey, locally sourced veggies, and organic mustard, mayonnaise, or aioli.
Roxx Electrocafe, located near the UC campus, boasts three 42-inch televisions and a massive 73-inch-wide screen that display heated bouts of digital competition across the café's spacious interior. Fourteen powerful gaming computers ($4/hour) enable activities such as cooperative robotic testing in the depths of Portal 2 or competitive right-clicking contests on the battlefields of League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth. Late-night hours yield to marathon console-gaming sessions of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Halo 3, and Rock Band ($4/hour)—all fueled by iced coffees ($2.50) and smoothies ($4), which ensure proper hydration and appropriate glottal lubrication. As the café's four Xbox 360s, four Wiis, and PlayStation 3 enchant eyes and coordinate drill teams of button-pressing thumbs, comfortable chairs and modern décor invite board games or study sessions.