Within sight of the beautiful mosaic-tiled dome of the Pima County Courthouse resides another Tucson treasure: Roasted Tea & Coffee Shop, where passionate coffee aficionados brew earthy, aromatic cups of joe from small batches of locally roasted beans. The coffee curators' insistence on organic and fair-trade products ensures top-shelf quality for each satisfying sip of espresso and each sweet, creamy latte. Cold-brewed iced coffee, spicy cold chai, and frosty chocolate-milk mochas cool down overheated taste buds while delivering all the rich, complex flavors of the house's carefully selected coffee beans.
You don’t win accolades and awards just for having the best smoothie flavors. The ingredients matter as well. That’s why the blender-operating staff at Xoom eschew the use of high-fructose corn syrup, added sugars, and ice cream in favor of natural, organic ingredients that satiate nutrient levels as well as taste buds. The smoothie menu focuses on 100% fruit juice, blended with organic milk, nutrient boosters, and energizing shots of espresso to ready your body for a fast-paced day of activity or telling the Kool-Aid Man you’re changing the locks on his favorite wall entrance to your house.
El Rio Bakery & Restaurant's culinary artisans begin baking fresh breads at 3 a.m., and open their doors daily at 6 a.m. to dole out assorted Mexican baked treats. Fresh Mexican classics abound on the lunch and dinner menu, including the chili menudo ($3.50/pint, $6.89/quart), a tripe soup traditionally believed to cure hangovers and temporary grant eaters the power to start fires with their eyes. Combination platters, such as the chili relleno served with rice, beans, and choice of tortillas ($5.59), satisfy aggressive appetites, while individual pastries such as the cochitos—gingerbread cookies shaped like little pigs—eschew refined sugar in favor of molasses and honey ($0.55 each). Among a colorful mural, painted by a local artist, an in-house tortilla factory spins delicate disks of varying diameters, and corresponding likelihoods of representing the different planets in a solar system mobile, with 14-inch burro tortillas ($3.50/ dozen) and 6-inch wheat tortillas ($2/dozen).
It was a fateful day that Campus Candy founder Mark Tarnofsky dropped his daughter off at Indiana University about four years ago. On a mission to track down a simple candy bar, the dutiful dad found himself roaming far afield until he finally landed at a distant drugstore. Convinced that college kids want candy within constant reach, Tarnofsky started his first store right there, and soon expanded to the schools in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Each outlet sells more than 500 different types of candy, all of which may be repurposed as toppings on a rotating menu of frozen yogurt. By slinging bulk candy at a fixed price, Campus Candy stores make it easy for college kids to load up on diverse desserts without filling their schedules with bonbon-making classes.
At Allegro il Gelato Naturale, two native Italians, one of whom is a graduate of Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, use old-world recipes to create fresh gelato daily. Their frozen treat is free of concentrates and artificial flavors, made instead from whole organic milk and natural stabilizers such as guar gum and hugs. These choice ingredients form both traditional and unusual flavors, including chocolate, custard, hazelnut, and mint ($3.50–$5 for a cup, $4.25–$5.75 for a cone). Allegro's treatmakers also prepare seasonal sorbets in flavors such as pear, apple, and kiwi, using only fresh fruit, real sugar, and mountain spring water. On colder days, sip a soothing hot chocolate ($2.50) or eye-opening espresso ($2).
At locations in more than a dozen states, U-Swirl delivers more than 40 flavors of frozen yogurt packed with live and active cultures and designed in low-fat, non-fat, and sugar-free varieties. Self-serve machines line the shop’s lime green walls, ready for customers to dispense heaping swirls of old favorites, such as cookie & cream and fruit sorbet, or seasonal innovations, including eggnog in the winter and fireworks in the summer. Next, patrons head to the toppings bar and crown their frozen treats with as much fresh fruit, cereal, and candy as they can handle before weighing cups and paying by the ounce.
The roasters at Coffee X Change ignite peaceful morning rituals with fresh-roasted regional beans procured from the fair-trade market. With a day's notice, customers can order one pound of house, Peaberry, or globetrotting beans from such coffee-rich regions as Costa Rica, Kenya, or New Guinea, and the expert java-whisperers roast the beans overnight. To satisfy the percolating preferences of all patrons, brew maestros can grind the batch of freshly cooked crop or leave the beans whole for personal grinding practice or delicious slingshot ammunition. Though the market price of each bean type varies, batches range from approximately $12.45–$14.45 per pound.