Sweet potatoes, pure chocolate, pecans, whole eggs, and real butter are blended into the made-from-scratch baked goods at Uncle Willie’s Pies, lending them the authentic taste of home cooking. In the wholesale business since 1996, Uncle Willie’s Pies now serves walk-in customers at its Red Oak location, where colossal red velvet cakes topped with cream-cheese icing and glistening peach cobblers await rumbling stomachs. Deep-dish trays hoist rich servings of buttermilk, sweet-potato, and lemon chess pies as well as fruit-filled pies, including no-sugar-added options. Uncle Willie’s also fills custom orders and hosts full service catering, allowing guests to pick and choose their favorite combination of ingredients to eat or throw at any poorly behaved clowns.
Chef K., owner of MyGi's Bakery Cafe, shapes cakes into giant Ramen packets, plates tapas, and serves gourmet lunches and dinners. Glittering candy buffets coat tables with sweetness and sparkle, and her specialty cakes personalize birthdays. Chef K. sometimes infuses her food with Caribbean influences, but her skill set spans the globe: students can choose to craft sushi, for instance, or cook their food in a Scandanavian hot spring. Chicago native and Ladha Catering owner Chef Tammy joins Chef K. in spreading the joys of international cooking and entertaining in pallet-expanding classes. Whether teaching a novice to perfectly grill a steak or serving brunch to some hungry weekend patrons, the chefs' passion for food and sense of artistry guide their endeavors.
The owners of Classic Cup Cafe grew up surrounded by the evocative aromas and flavors of home cooking. At their quaint eatery, a menu of comfort fare, re-created using healthy alternatives, mirrors their childhood experience. In lieu of french fries, they pair sweet-potato wedges with a burger crafted from free-range chicken out of central Texas. Each bird is void of antibiotics, hormones, and glitzy feather extensions. The caf?'s freshly baked breads boast a lower sodium count and higher omega-3 content than traditional loaves, and some ingredients hail from small local businesses. As servers dole out the nourishing eats and fill mugs with italian cappuccino or mexican hot chocolate, diners can snuggle up with a good book or page torn out of a menu, then challenge friends to a game of Scrabble.
White Rhino Coffee is about more than just coffee—although really good coffee is of the utmost importance here. Open early and closing late, the cafe serves as a place where strangers can become friends over caffeine-fueled conversations and laughter. Along with classic french press, espresso, and drip coffees, the staff recommends tasty drinks like nonfat iced dirty peppermint chai. "Edibles" such as house-baked cookies, muffins, fresh fruit, and scrumptious sandwiches keep bellies full and quiet during events like open mic night and group naps.
Owner Donna Smith-Grice describes her father Jimmy Smith as drinking his coffee the way he lived his life: "strong and sweet." Inspired by the wafting aromas of his daily coffee pots drifting up from her childhood memories, she opened her own coffee shop and borrowed his first initial to complete the name of the newly born Lazy J Coffee.
In keeping with its homey origins, the café's interior seems more like an eclectic living room than a restaurant, with well-worn leather couches facing a faux fireplace and a small wooden buffet topped with old-fashioned candleholders. Amidst this domestic comfort, baristas steam mugfulls of the shop's signature grind and specialty espresso drinks or fill cups with fruit smoothies that, like recovered cyborgs, are entirely organic.
With such labels as fair-trade, organic, direct-trade, and the like slapped across what seems to be every bag of coffee, it can be hard to determine what’s what. At Crooked Tree Coffee House, however, the game is pretty simple—the shop gets its beans from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, who in turn purchases them directly from growers in such locales as Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. No matter where they're from, the beans are always organic and top-notch; a promise the rosters keep by visiting the plantations, paying a premium for the best beans, and enforcing a rigorous quality-control check before a single bag is sent to Crooked Tree. Back at the shop, a handwritten chalkboard menu of the day's freshly roasted beans hangs over Crooked Tree's counter, letting customers know exactly where their latte, macchiato, or cortado came from. Served in big ceramic cups, the drinks—and the homemade scones and croissants—are meant to be enjoyed within the living-room-like shop, which is fittingly housed inside a renovated cottage. Loveseats, couches, and chairs are scattered across the space's dark wooden floors, surrounded by brightly colored walls and a rotating display of local artwork. On Friday and Saturday nights, the art comes alive in the form of live music performances and paintbrush séances.