Alotta Brownies' glass cases reveal sweet morsels of succulent handmade baked goods. The inviting confectionery is owned by New York–trained pastry chef Michelle, whose former stomping ground had her baking cakes for the sweet-toothed likes of Madonna, Mary Tyler Moore, and Yoko Ono. She and her lovingly prepared sweets migrated to the Midwest, where a 100-year-old sugar-cookie recipe mingles with more than 20 varieties of brownies alongside a sweeping selection of peanut butter rolls ($2.25), scones ($2.25), Norwegian school breads ($2.25, only available on Saturdays), and more. Sweets-seekers can also opt to customize a cake, mixing and matching layers with frosting and decorations to craft a comestible masterwork ($24.99+).
One part coffee shop, one part deli, and one part bar, Toast offers something to satisfy almost every craving. Inaugurate the a.m. with a fresh cup of coffee or an espresso drink made with freshly roasted beans from The Mill ($1.55 for a classic single shot, $3.65 for a decadent mocha). The deli dishes out a hefty variety of sandwiches, salads, soups, and sides; the pastrami on rye is a house specialty, composed of layers of thinly sliced pastrami, sautéed onions, swiss, and stone-ground mustard ($7.95). Top off taste buds with a scoop of hard-packed UNL Dairy Store ice cream ($1.85 for a single), featuring fun flavors such as cappuccino chocolate chip and scarlet and cream (vanilla with a berry swirl).
bread&cup is a European-influenced eatery that serves up made-from-scratch plates of simple, elegant cuisine in a warm and inviting environment. The restaurant's cozy morning staples include spiced oatmeal crowned with sunflower nuts, brown sugar, cream, caramel, and apple butter ($4), and savory open-faced biscuits with sausage and gravy ($6). The everyday lunch menu sports equally comforting homestyle edibles, namely hearty sandwiches on house-made bread ($4–$7.50), homemade soup ($3–$4), and more. Try a roast beef bundle ($7.50) on ciabatta bread if you need a boost of energy to make it through the afternoon, or slide to the other end of the meat spectrum with a vegetarian sandwich ($6.50) of hummus, roasted squash, carrots, onions, and lettuce. Because bread&cup tries to use seasonal ingredients that are sourced from local farms whenever possible, customers are rarely faced with plates of summer squash with frostbite or snow peas with suntans.
Cold Stone's ice cream inhabits a quantum flux between soft-serve and traditional ice cream, with a rich, creamy texture that whispers tales of its super-premium quality as it glides over taste buds. The ice cream generously welcomes dozens of toppings, as traditional as crumbled cookies and chopped nuts or as quirky as granola and black licorice. Choose your favorite ice cream from among dozens of silky flavors, such as Irish cream and butter pecan. Then make certain no one will try and steal a taste by topping it protectively with brownies, gumballs, and cherry-pie filling. Whatever Frankencream you create, it'll be scooped cold off the grill into a freshly made waffle cone or bowl. Cold Stone's ice cream and toppings vary between seasons and location, and the creamerie also offers sorbet and an array of lighter toppings, such as fruit and honey. Ice cream creations run between $3.75 and $5.75, depending on size and location.
Coffee Emergency is a small-batch coffee roasting company and shop that sells fresh espresso and coffee beans harvested from Africa, the Americas, and the Far East. None of its coffee beans are roasted until you order them, ensuring delicious cups of morning alertness not hampered by the stale memories of yesterday’s bittersweet MAS*H reruns. The friendly staff at Coffee Emergency will assist you in finding your ideal bean. The store's best-seller is its code brown espresso ($12.95 per lb.), and the newly added Ethiopian dry-process sidamo combines the complex flavors of dried fruits, leather, tobacco, and earth ($12.95 per lb.). The Guatemalan florencia bourbon ($12.95 per lb.) is a balanced, sweet caramel-tinged medium roast favored by many coffee drinkers. A decaf blend is also available for those who abstain from the hard stuff.
The cupcakes and confections at PJ’s Baby Cakes owe their saccharine excellence to owner Amanda Bragg and her family recipes. Since starting the business in 2009, she’s contemplated the perfect frosting-to-cupcake ratio and introduced a lineup of more than 100 cupcake-flavor combinations, including regular staples such as vanilla and lemon burst plus seasonal selections such as candy cane and pumpkin cream cheese. The confectioner’s cupcake cakes form like Voltron and sport creative designs that can be split into individual cupcakes. All of the treats are free of preservatives and other man-made chemicals.