After Vernon Rudolph acquired a closely guarded donut recipe from a New Orleans pastry chef, he couldn't keep the secret to himself. He opened up shop in 1937 to share the yeast-raised delectables with the world, thus marking the birth of Krispy Kreme.
Today, step into any Krispy Kreme shop and you can see the donuts progress on their journey from formless dough to circular confection. The entire process plays out through plate glass windows: the raw dough is shaped into disks, the disks rise in a heated oven, the plumped donuts then drop into the fryer where a conveyor belt speeds them along their journey. After cooling on the belt, the original donuts pass through a ribbon of glaze. Like a donut-shaped bat signal, a neon sign lights up the sky to announce the emergence of fresh, hot Krispy Kremes.
West End Diner’s owners Jay and Betty Lee load an extensive menu of classic diner dishes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and a slew of heart-healthy options. Fifteen burgers ($7.79+), made from fresh-ground Angus beef, slip into stomachs to curb cravings and to satisfy daily requirements for disk-shaped nutrition. Cuisine crafters douse a generous portion of ribs in homemade barbecue sauce for the barbecue loin back rib entree ($17.99), which is accompanied by an enticing array of savory sides. Sink forks into round-the-clock breakfast options, such as the Durango platter, whose freshly baked biscuit supports a tower of sausage gravy and farm-fresh eggs and is embellished with a green-chili façade ($8.49). Homemade devil's food cake from the dessert menu makes a particularly grand appearance in the cake shake ($4.99), in which the moist baked treat blends into a thick vanilla shake, giving hope to straw-envying solids everywhere.
Iowa Bakery Café is a locally owned confectionary and café that serves a menu packed with breakfast basics, soups, and sandwiches made from scratch. Kettle-boiled bagels cover the flavor spectrum with sun-dried tomato, cinnamon raisin, and the everything bagel ($1.20/each; $11.99/dozen). The eggwich is a delicious confluence of egg, molten cheese, and optional meat piled between a bagel ($3.69–$4.69) that was cut in half during a botched magic trick. The café hosts two soup flavors daily, and specialty sandwiches ($2.49–$7.99) such as the hot ham and cheese or pizza bagel hug to the fresh-baked warmth of a bagel, croissant, or focaccia bread. A variety of espresso drinks ($2.49–$3.99) clear satisfied passageways and add boosts of energy for researching the origin of the bagel's misplaced center.
Tracie Gregson loves the inherent nostalgia of cupcakes. Each bite reminds her of home. But she’s also aware of the deceptively simple dessert’s endless flavor possibilities. When a friend needed a treat to complement his gourmet barbecue, Tracie took up the challenge and grabbed some slabs of smoked bacon. After some experimentation, she emerged from her kitchen with a maple-bacon cupcake, with a vanilla-spice base crowned with brown-sugar-maple frosting, coarse sugar, and crags of smoked pork.
That cupcake memoir typifies the ongoing flavor development at Tracie Cakes. Eschewing mixes, Tracie prefers scouring online purveyors for the finest ingredients she can find. Shipments regularly arrive with gourmet dutch cocoas, velvety sour creams, and finely sifted powdered sugars that Tracie uses because they balance the sweetness—not too sweet—of her buttercream frostings without sacrificing texture. Such fine ingredients go into her more than 20 flavors of cupcakes, from her personal favorite white wedding cake to the coconut cloud, made with organic cloud flour.