You might say Nu Cafe is leading a double life. During the day, it's a classic neighborhood hangout, serving up simple, fresh wraps and sandwiches alongside a variety of smoothies and juices and espresso and coffee drinks. By night, it transforms into a hipper, slightly more sophisticated version of itself, a place where guests can come to mingle, not over their laptops, but around shared tapas plates, cured meat and cheese boards, and a selection of wine and craft beers. But regardless of the time of day, a few things remain the same: the vibe is always laid-back and friendly, the food is always crafted using fresh, wholesome ingredients, and the Wi-Fi is always free. And, adding to the community-oriented vibe, the cafes also host regular recurring events, including live piano players, painting parties, and chess groups.
At Blush Yogurt Cafe, patrons can have their cake and eat it too, enjoying more than 30 flavors of kosher frozen yogurt that contains no gluten, fat, cholesterol, or preservatives. Flavors run the gamut from caramel and watermelon to pumpkin and green tea, each of which is sprinkled with up to 20 toppings such as coconut, brownie bites, and honeydew melon. The staff also stuffs pork and tofu into spring rolls, slathers ham with cranberry sauce in a wrap, and handpicks the seaweed salad’s contents during annual trips to Seaweed World.
Honey Dew Donuts founder Dick Bowen didn’t expect anything special to happen one winter morning in 1978. He simply arrived at his shop in Plainville, greeted his co-baker, and waited for the day's customers. Instead, what showed up was a devastating storm, known henceforth as the Blizzard of '78. The two bakers were snowed in and had nobody to serve their signature donuts to. Making the best of an unfortunate situation, they began experimenting in the kitchen and ultimately came up with the cinnamon stick, a helix of cinnamon and fried dough that would help their business reach even greater levels of popularity.
The snow ultimately melted, and Honey Dew Donuts went on to open several additional locations throughout New England. In addition to Bowen's signature cinnamon sticks, each shop serves steamy coffee drinks, freshly baked muffins, and dozens of other donut varieties.
Cafe Burrito's crew stuffs tortillas with ingredients such as chili-lime chicken, cotija cheese, and zesty pickled veggies to craft its hefty Mission-style burritos, which epitomize the handheld meal. The menu also features other creative fare, such as Mexican-style grilled-cheese sandwiches, which showcase cheese melted over pork carnitas or pulled barbecue chicken, and pickled veggies. Diners can also top their food with special-made salsas crafted from fruits such as peach or apple, which rotate monthly to keep palates surprised.
Hailed as 1 of 11 coffee shops that “put Boston on the map,” according to the Boston Globe, Simon's Coffee Shop decided the only way to top itself was to literally put itself on the map again. Despite just opening, Simon’s Too looks a little more grown-up than its predecessor. Instead of playful orange walls, the coffee shop has exposed brick; instead of scrawling the menu items in multicolored chalk, the baristas print them carefully with white block letters. But Simon’s Too still has the same energy as the flagship location. And it still uses only local coffee, which is brewed from beans roasted in Arlington and Acton. Like a cartoon pie cooling on a windowsill, the coffee bean grinder entices guests with its deep aromas, luring patrons to the wooden counter to order one of the day’s available soups or a signature drink concocted by a La Marzocco espresso machine.
Once they open the shop in the early morning, Jitters Cafe's sandwich makers stop looking at the clock. They prepare their slate of breakfast paninis any time of the day, giving patrons the ability to bite into hot ham-and-egg sandwiches or scarf down grilled-cheese sandwiches whenever the mood strikes. The lunch hour unlocks another list of paninis and salads that join in the hunger-fighting mission throughout the rest of the day. Each sandwich is made with bread freshly delivered that morning from local sources and pairs well with the shop’s brewed coffee.