Jon and Carmen Pei spent years traveling the globe, visiting cafés from New York to Taiwan in search of the perfect rendition of their treasured childhood treat: bubble tea. After organizing all their recipes, tips, and ideas, the couple opened their own shop, where they whip up their own blend of innovative bubble teas, smoothies, and frozen hot chocolate.
Upon entering their colorful, brightly lit shop, guests are often greeted by Jon and Carmen themselves, who dole out free samples to first-timers, greet return customers by name, and tussle the toupees of visiting congressmen. The duo and their staff of baristas fold premium tea leaves and freshly cooked tapioca boba balls imported from Taiwan into fruity drinks. They also chop up fresh fruit for smoothies every day at the shop. Customers are invited to order from a menu of specialty drinks or choose from a variety of flavors, fruits, and mix-ins to design their own concoction. They can even add from a selection of more than 25 kinds of popping boba balls, which burst in the mouth with every sip. And during chilly winter months, the baristas pour hot bubble tea.
Guests sip on beverages and nibble on snacks—such as crunchy Pocky sticks—out among the tabletops of the lively seating area. Some play video games on wide-screen computers and televisions, whereas others engage in more traditional games such Connect Four or competitions to fit the most straws up their nostrils.
The name Just Fried Rice implies a very specific menu. But that's not the case at this Addison eatery, where Chinese dishes share table space with Korean, Creole, Indian, and other types of cuisine. Cooks prepare more than 10 types of fried rice, sprinkling them with ingredients such as bacon and chilies. They also fill plates with teriyaki wings, simmer pots of gumbo, and ladle sausage-laced tomato sauce over spaghetti noodles that patrons can braid into edible necklaces. Diners can wash it all back with beverages that range from thai tea to root beer served in a frosty mug.
Le Peep's focus on breakfast and lunch stems from a decision made more than 40 years ago, when Buddy and Rhoda Waldman opened The Village Pantry in Aspen, Colorado, and—not wanting to miss a half day of skiing—would close the kitchen each day before noon. The duo would continue to tinker with their concept, stare at it through a novelty-sized microscope, and change its name before it eventually migrated to Texas.
Nowadays, the kitchen staff perpetuates the breakfast-crafting tradition by offering omelets, eggs benedict, skillets, and build-your-own pancake options that use ingredients such as walnuts, bacon, pineapple, and chocolate chips. Traditional dishes are augmented with unique twists, such as the Gooey Buns, english muffins broiled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and almonds and served with a signature side of Mom's Sassy Apples. During midday hours, a variety of salads, burgers, and sandwiches parades out of the kitchen accompanied by smoothies, juices, or Mother Parkers coffee. Le Peep's catering service delivers breakfast and lunch fare to homes, events, or filibustered neighborhood-watch meetings.
Pungent aromas fill the air at Java Me Up, where customers filter in for the specialty coffee drinks and gourmet sandwiches. The s’mores latte and white chocolate mocha are just two of 40 flavors available for fans of sweet caffeinated sips, while gourmet drip coffees showcase the rich profiles of beans gathered anywhere from Hawaii, to Ethiopia, to Juan Valdez's pantry. Meanwhile, croissants make a soft and buttery base for hickory smoked turkey sandwiches, and snacks such as biscotti, warm brownies, and organic salads round out the menu of fresh and light café fare.
When Carlene Saelg and Rita Davis moved from Austin to Dallas in 2007, they immediately began their search for their new favorite coffee joint. They didn't find it. Instead of despairing, the duo took matters into their own hands and created their idea of the perfect coffee shop, which they decided had to include a cozy space, a vibrant community of regulars, and a menu of delicious beverages. A mere six months after opening, The Pearl Cup had become a Henderson Avenue hit and its signature drink, The Pearl Latte, had been named the best latte in town by D Magazine. The Pearl Latte, just like the rest of The Pearl Cup’s decadent coffee drinks, starts with direct-source beans purchased at above fair-trade prices and roasted by local Texas roasters. From there, skilled baristas craft shots of straight espresso, carafes of French press, or robust drip coffee made from custom bean blends. Those who opt for a dressed-up drink, such as a cappuccino or latte, will notice that The Pearl Cup's sizes are a bit smaller than those of big-name chains; this is all in a well planned effort to maintain the integrity of the coffee profile, rather than overwhelming it with milk or a cup it can't climb out of. No matter the size, customers will likely want to match their drink with what D Magazine called “first-rate” paninis and hummus.
Flavors from around the world converge at Oasis Café, from the grilled lamb and beef of Greek gyros to the sweet chili sauce of Thai chicken. Sandwiches and wraps emphasize organic and natural ingredients, and both meat and vegetarian options are well-represented. Coffee splashes tongues in hot, iced, or blended forms, as in the Oasis macchiato, which swirls caramel and vanilla into double espresso. The aromas of freshly baked muffins and percolating soups drift across the long wood counter and over checkered booths, where diners groove to soft jazz melodies so they don’t have to bridge conversational lulls with knock-knock jokes that might offend people who live in tents.