Elite Cake Creations began as a little bakery in Cuba way back in 1921, so it's had nearly a century to perfect its cakes, desserts, and pastries. Today, Beatriz Otero continues the long family tradition started by her grandfather, using tried-and-true recipes that call for buttercream frosting and fondant with vanilla-, chocolate-, and marble-cake bases. Beatriz can customize cakes to look like everything from a flame-painted speedboat to a bucket of cold Coronas. She extends this art form to cupcakes and push-pop cakes. She also relishes the opportunity to craft cakes for special occasions, constructing eight-layer wedding cakes, birthday cakes shaped like wrapped gifts, and 50th anniversary cakes made of solid gold.
Star Bistro keeps taste buds cosmopolitan with a menu of finely crafted cuisine that fuses European, Mediterranean, and Asian flavors. Like a fine Pangean restaurant, the bill of fare tastefully blends international influences into elegant entrees such as a creamy dish of mushrooms with pappardelle ($15.50) or an herb-crusted rack of lamb plated with angel-hair pie, vegetables, and a red-wine demi-glace ($35.50). Midday fare includes a spinach salad with macadamia nuts, polenta, and balsamic vinaigrette ($9) or a dish of seared tuna, asian noodles, and ponzu ($10.50). In addition to an ever-changing menu of fused eats, Star Bistro's wine list rounds out meals with selections such as the sparkling Pisani prosecco extra dry ($25 for a bottle) tickling palates with a light, moussey flavor, or the Mackenzie merlot 2008 ($8 for a glass; $24 for a bottle), a smooth, dark vino with notes of dark cherry, chocolate, oak, and fancy.
Drawn to a tomato picked right from the vine, a small girl breaks its crimson skin with her teeth, its earthy scent and tart-sweet flavor imprinting forever on her mind. This childhood memory of her family's garden inspired Sheila to establish SW Ranches Farmers Market, where shoppers can nibble on samples of the day's harvest just as Sheila did as a little girl. The produce on display is all grown sustainably and without pesticides, whether it is cultivated by Sheila and her crew or brought to the site from local farms.
Patrons can suss out the available options on the market's website in order to plan meals or find something that fits in a factory-defect cornucopia. Shoppers stock pantries with other organic options when available, including cereal, flour, seasonings, meats, and fish. Some summer nights, the market shows outdoor movies with a focus on healthy foods, such as the documentary Forks Over Knives.
Taste of the City serves up the taste of the country: American fare. The eatery's all-day breakfast menu includes corn beef hash, omelets, and pancakes. Its lunch and dinner menus expand to include grilled cheese sandwiches and New York strip steak served with parsley potatoes and veggies.
Flamingo Road Nursery owner Jim Dezell is used to the surprise on people's faces when they come to the nursery for the first time. "People commonly come in and say, ‘Wow, I never knew there was a garden center like this,’" he says. Maybe they're wowed by the park-like landscaping, complete with display gardens designed to inspire shoppers with ideas for plant combinations. Maybe they're blown away at the fountains, statues, and thousands of pieces of pottery. Or maybe they've just seen the pond surrounded by colorfully painted "shops" and palm trees. It's a "true experience" that's as much about shopping as it is about creating "memory and traditions", wrote Today's Garden Center in 2011, when it picked Flamingo Road Nursery as the most revolutionary garden center in the nation.
In addition to helping shoppers navigate the selection of flowers, trees, and other plants, the knowledgeable staff can also help them complete landscaping projects with outdoor artwork, waterfalls, and more. "It's professional advice here," says Jim. "We really try to understand our customers' needs and offer solutions that will both excite them and provide long-term enjoyment." He even recommends people bring in dimensions and photos of their space so the staff can get a better idea of what will grow well there. Flamingo Road Nursery offers delivery and complete installation services. Other garden-centric items, such as fountains and colorful adirondack furniture, give customers more chances to enjoy their outdoor living spaces.
The nursery also hosts an on-site Farmers Market shop, which hosts a large assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, and artisan foods—some of the produce is even picked at the nursery itself. On the weekends, a beekeeper visits the store to explain how bees make honey to visiting kids, using the in-store observation beehive as a teaching tool. On Saturdays and Sundays, authentic southern BBQ including pulled pork, sausage, chicken, and ribs that have been slowly smoked for 5–10 hours are served under the giant tiki hut. The nursery holds seasonal celebrations as well, including an annual fall festival with pumpkin patch and a Christmas festival replete with sleigh rides, Santa visits, and a Christmas tree forest.
Hungry Howie’s grew into a nation-spanning franchise from a humble start in Taylor, Michigan in 1973, when founder Jim Hearn converted a hamburger stand into a pizzeria. With the help of business partner Steve Jackson––who started as a delivery man at the original location––the two men franchised a decade later and began expanding their delicious operation, resulting in nearly 600 locations spread across 24 states in the 3rd dimension alone. Almost 40 years after its start, Hungry Howie’s continues to earn the most attention for its specialty flavored crust pizzas––which infuse dough with a choice of eight seasonings such as ranch or garlic herb––as well as zesty pizza accompaniments such as oven-baked meatball and chicken parm subs.