In 1937, something hot, delicious, and glazed rolled through the sleepy town of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Seventy-seven years later, Vernon Rudolph's secret doughnut recipe lives on within the hundreds of Krispy Kreme locations scattered across the globe as well as within the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, where Krispy Kreme is heralded as a 20th-century American icon.
The entire doughnut-making process, which customers can view up close and personal at many of Krispy Kreme’s outposts, begins with fresh ingredients and ends with the click of a fluorescent sign bearing the words, "Hot Doughnuts Now." From the original, mold-breaking glazed doughnut to newer doughnut varieties, such as Chocolate Iced with Kreme Filling, Glazed Raspberry Filled, and Glazed Chocolate Cake, each round dainty pairs with piping-hot coffee for a compact snack easily tucked into a pocket or clown shoe.
The bakers at Sweet Dreams know it takes more than just fresh ingredients to produce their tasty treats—it also takes imagination. That's why they form their customized apple-spice and cookies-and-cream cakes into the shape of cartoonish robots, realistic-looking iPhones, and elegant designs that match wedding themes. They apply this level of attention to detail to their cookies, tarts, cheesecakes, and other creations, too: 10 cupcake flavors, including red velvet and caramel apple, take the form of Hello Kitty! designs and hamburgers. While Sweet Dreams' desserts may be fleeting, the consideration the company shows its customers is not. Bakers treat their wedding clients to a complimentary cake on the couple's one-year anniversary, and they also play their wedding song using instruments that only make silent music.
The pastry chefs at Auntie Em's Fine Foods & Pastries bake trays of fluffy cupped creations in flavors both familiar and inspired by Filipino traditions. Cupcake-cravers pick one flavor for their dozen from the menu, with such selections as carrot cake, chocolate ganache, and red velvet, the latter named for its improvisational use as a fabric swatch. Favored tastes from the Philippines include ube cupcakes—lent a vibrant purple color by a type of yam—and buko pandan, which are infused with coconut and pandan essence. Customers must phone in or skywrite their orders at least 24 hours in advance.
While You’re Waiting: Get your taste buds tingling with anticipation by checking out the glass display cases stocked full with paninis, baked goods, and other treats.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Play pinball and shop for shirts at Free Gold Watch (1767 Waller Street).
After: Buy a painting at Creativity Explored (3245 16th Street), which helps artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell their works.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Trade paninis for the classic reuben sandwiches at Blue Front Cafe (1430 Haight Street).
In the bright spaces of Jamba Juice, mixers sprinkle mountains of all-natural, low-fat frozen yogurt with choices from seven toppings, such as almond and coconut. Dubbed Whirl'ns, cups filled with swirling, rivulet-etched peaks of frozen yogurt fuse the nutrition of real fruit and natural ingredients with the beneficial circuit training of active yogurt cultures.
Noeteca‘s owners spent their lives looking forward to running their own restaurant, so it’s no surprise that the French-inspired tapas spot feels comfortable in its own skin from early morning meals until late into the night. During the day, Noeteca seems like a cafe, where patrons sip on international coffees from local roasters brewed by the cup or for personal-sized French presses. At brunch menu, familiar dishes share space with ambitious French-inspired offerings—the croque monsieur becomes a croque Napoleon with slices of bread pudding layered with black forest ham and emmantaler. When the weather is nice, guests can wander out to a patio colored by a flower and herb garden to learn the sun’s secret handshake.
As evening falls, candlelight fills the dining room and guests switch their focus to wine. The award-winning list includes more than 30 varieties, each available by the glass or half-glass. For dinner, patrons can build their own cheese plates or share a tarte flambèe, Alsatian flatbreads the San Francisco Bay Guardian said have “a lovely thin, blistered crust that was a bit softer and more luxurious than a typical pizza crust”.