In a way, Big Dipper Ice Cream Shop specializes in fusion cuisine. The family-owned shop combines ice cream with a variety of desserts to make entirely new concoctions. For instance, their handmade ice cream flavors are infused with a host of candies that would feel right at home in a movie theater including Almond Joy and Snickers. Other flavors derive their tang from fresh fruit, as in the case of black raspberry and caramel apple. Still others owe their taste to classic confections such as cheesecake, licorice, and the popular dirty turtle, a mix of dark chocolate, pecans, and caramel.
There are more than 40 flavors in all behind the counter. And though you might miss out on mint oreo during one visit, you could get lucky the next time you stop by as the staff constantly rotates the selection. These staffers are also responsible for the shop's festive, community atmosphere that can make their sweets taste even sweeter, a fact that earned the shop a nomination for the 2013 Macaroni Kid Family Choice Awards. There's even a vending machine outside where customers can pick up pre-packaged servings to eat ice cream on the go without having to install a tiny freezer in their glove compartment.
Bean Buddy's bright-eyed coffee-bean mascot, Bean Buddy, welcomes guests into the WiFi-equipped cafe, where coffee pots percolate and beans are ground fresh. With a five-drink punch card, customers can bring along a jazz quartet and still ensure that everyone enjoys their own cup (up to $4.89 each) of Buddy's hazelnut divinity, a swirling vortex of hazelnut and almond roca. Augment flavor absorption by partnering warm sips of german-chocolate-cake coffee—infused with chocolate and coconut—with The Mean Bean, an extra shot of espresso, chocolate, caramel, and hazelnut. Baked fresh by a local pastry chef, cupcakes ($2.45 each) of red velvet and chocolate add extra morsels of saccharine goodness to an already-rich culinary affair, and a Bean Buddy cartoon coffee mug ($9.95) acts as a sentimental souvenir of your visit or lightens up the moods of dark cupboards.
Opened by a pair of leaf-loving friends in 1999, The Mad Hatter Tea Room fills the 1916-built Anoka Post Office building with traditional English teas and trays bearing freshly baked scones and dainty sandwiches. At reserved seatings, guests sip and nibble from a cornucopia of tea services named after outlandish characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books and mathematical theorems. Tea sets the scene for leisurely afternoons, surrounded by spiraling chandeliers and pastel walls. On the way out, a boutique stocked with books and tea accessories lets guests tote the elegance to their own homes and backyard dirt bike rallies.