Enthusiastic baker Nefertiti Angelini hand-picks 97 percent organic ingredients such as tahitian and bourbon vanilla beans to shape cupcakes inspired by such iconic treats as s'mores, peanut butter and jelly, and key-lime pie. The confections pop out of the oven several dozen at a time before donning crunchy or juicy toppings, letting an expansive and ever-changing array of flavor combinations press their noses to the hand-labeled display case. Beyond their eye-catching exteriors, most cakelets harbor gooey centers overstuffed with cream cheese, ganache, peanut butter, or caramel matryoshka dolls. Aromas drift past the storefront's crystal chandelier and bright bouquets into its Reston neighborhood. The CupCake Ladi often expands her energies into charitable works as well: as the Orange County Register has reported, Nefertiti donates hundreds of cupcakes a week to fund ventures including German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County and the March of Dimes.
The Melting Pot transforms date nights and friendly outings into rich, sensory experiences by gathering diners around communal pots of fondue and adorning their tables with sumptuous four-course feasts of cheese, salad, chocolate, and steakhouse fare. Bubbling pots of emmentaler, lager-laced cheddar, and creamy fontina quell urges to engage in skewer swordfights as guests eagerly dip and slather slices of crisp granny-smith apples or crusts of artisanal bread. Creamy peppercorn ranch and decadent burgundy-shallot vinaigrette drape plates of crispy salad greens and roma tomatoes before servers parade out the pièce de résistance—fresh shrimp, sesame-crusted ahi, and succulent slices of filet mignon that bathe in roiling pools of coq au vin and bourguignonne. As a tasty digestif, dessert-savvy diners coat brownies, marshmallows, and unlucky car keys in cauldrons of milk, dark, and white chocolate.
Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.
Zagat-rated El Manantial melds a mouthwatering marriage of French, Spanish, and Italian culinary traditions on their expansive dinner menu. Diners bask in a bevy of tapas, which include spanish omelettes ($5.95), crispy thai chicken ($5.95), and embutidos—a divinely delectable combination of cured meat, pork loin, sausage, and manchego cheese that fills conversational gaps and blazer pockets with scrumptiousness ($8). The restaurant's elegant dining room, which is lined with sweeping murals of Mediterranean seascapes, comfortably houses massive entrees from flounder imperial—a blackened mahi mahi filet bedecked in cognac cream sauce ($22.95)—to thinly sliced duck breast ornamented with raspberry dressing ($25.95). The extensive wine list regales palates with Spanish tempranillos and other international vintages by the glass (starting at $7), bottle, and trough.
Bejeweled with gem-like skewered grapes, Edible Arrangements' Delicious Fruit Design bouquets pop with a starburst of chocolate-drenched and undrenched strawberries rocketing past honeydew slices. Skillfully shaped cantaloupe daisies sport glistening pineapple petals, communicating love to significant others or appreciation to favorite limbo dancers. Alternatively, a dozen ripe strawberries hand-dipped in semisweet chocolate peek out of their package, tempting onlookers with finger-staining juiciness. Whether drizzled in chocolate or served au naturel, each bite remains free of preservatives and lower-back tattoos.