At Happy Chicks Bakery, Jana and Jessica craft sweet pastries and desserts with the mission of bringing joy to their patrons. But the bakers aren't churning out the same old treats: everything they create is vegan. That means the dairy, eggs, and tiny t-bone steaks typically found in baked goods have no place at Happy Chicks. Instead, the specialists rely on fresh seasonal and local ingredients to build a menu that includes cakes, cookies, macarons, pies, and croissants. Their seasonal flavors?which might include orange-blossom apricot cupcakes in the summer or carrot pistachio sheet cakes in the spring?are complemented by intricate design work, such as buttercream roses or fondant foxes.
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.
Pearls are often prized for their exquisite appearance and oystery aroma, but Boba Cha values a different sort of pearl?bubble tea's chewy spheres of tapioca. This cozy shop in downtown Cincinnati specializes in creamy concoctions that combine sweet flavors with the tapioca pearls' satisfying chewiness. Aside from the signature bubble teas?which can be prepared hot or cold and with or without milk?the shop whips up frozen snow treats flavored with fruit and yogurt.
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.
Sugar n’ Spice first opened its doors in 1941, and its breakfast, lunch, and now dinner offerings haven't changed much since. Steven Frankel, the restaurant's new owner, and fifth overall, attributes this consistency to the unstoppable allure of signature items such as wispy-thin pancakes ($4 for four), and also to the hysterical, screeching silly-putty riots that broke out the last time the menu underwent a significant change. Feast on inventive, recipe-guarded dishes such as the spinach and mozzarella Popeye omelet ($6.25) and the two-egg, sausage-bacon-and-more platter known as the slaughterhouse five ($10.25), a favorite among Ohio's expanding Tralfamadorian population. Lunch at Sugar n' Spice sees a close clique of sandwiched meats sitting in the menu's coolest spots; the muffin burger ($4.75) is a quarter-pound beef patty set on a toasted English muffin with grilled onions and cheese, while the chicken not-so-little ($5.75), six ounces of teriyaki-grilled chicken breast, finally grows out of its melodramatic "sky is falling" phase via the life transition of getting devoured.
The panda mascot and cartoon-bright colors of Sippy Bears' petite storefront might suggest a candy shop from afar, but the sweet stuff inside is determinedly healthy. With the pulse of a juicer, fresh fruits and veggies are transformed into hyperpigmented blends such as the Blueberry Breeze and the Green Dream, which gets its hue from wheatgrass. (You can even ingest wheatgrass's blast of chlorophyll in popsicle or lemonade form.) They all contain no added sugar and no preservatives.
Sippy Bears' juicing pros also arm customers for times when they can't make it into the shop. Juicing 101 classes impart all the basics of the art form, and the store also sells affordable Lexen hand-cranked juicers, wheatgrass seeds, and grow-your-own drinking-straw kits.