Alotta Brownies' glass cases reveal sweet morsels of succulent handmade baked goods. The inviting confectionery is owned by New York–trained pastry chef Michelle, whose former stomping ground had her baking cakes for the sweet-toothed likes of Madonna, Mary Tyler Moore, and Yoko Ono. She and her lovingly prepared sweets migrated to the Midwest, where a 100-year-old sugar-cookie recipe mingles with more than 20 varieties of brownies alongside a sweeping selection of peanut butter rolls ($2.25), scones ($2.25), Norwegian school breads ($2.25, only available on Saturdays), and more. Sweets-seekers can also opt to customize a cake, mixing and matching layers with frosting and decorations to craft a comestible masterwork ($24.99+).
Named business of the year in 2010 by Heritage Nebraska, patrons sit down at the Heartland Cafe for breakfast and lunch amid traces of local history inside a building constructed in 1919. In this setting, diners dig into fresh-made pancakes and made-to-order omelets, conversing and creating new memories. The quiche florentine brims with bacon, spinach, and mushrooms baked in a housemade pie crust and covered with hollandaise. For lunch, the cooks whip up reuben sandwiches, fish ‘n’ chips, and elk burgers. Heartland Cafe's owner, Sharon Janovsky, was also named 2012 business person of the year by the Western Douglas County Chamber of Commerce for the cafe's active role in the community, such as hosting the annual tree lighting ceremony.
Shari Preister started Cuppycakes out of the goodness of her heart; she whipped up a batch of gluten-free cupcakes for a friend with a gluten allergy and discovered with relative ease that baking was her calling. She expanded the operation from her kitchen to a storefront space and soon earned a nomination for best cupcake from the Omaha World Herald. With such acclaim, there was no turning back.
Now the bakery makes more than 50 flavors categorized as spicy, fruity, naughty, and fresh that build on the classics or incorporate seasonal trends. Some of these get their inspiration from her sister, a drink mixologist in California. The results translate into Shari’s unique set of cocktail-inspired flavors such as the Margaritaville—margarita cake, key-lime filling, and frosting studded with crushed pretzels. She also makes traditional flavors with a twist, such as the 14 Karrot, a walnut-studded carrot-cake cupcake with cinnamon-cream-cheese frosting. Customers can special-order gluten- or nut-free delectables or drop by on Fridays when gluten-free cupcakes are prepared each week.
The Cazual Cup serves up a menu of leafy salads and build-your-own sandwiches that come with a choice of bread, meat, cheese, and greens. Keep things simple with a standard garden salad (a $4.95 value), or add some protein to avoid the necessity of a peanut-butter body wrap by ordering a club, chicken, or tuna salad (a $7.95 value each). Cazual Cup’s sandwich engineers can construct their tasty structures on a croissant, wheat bread, or kaiser roll foundation. A choice of turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken, or tuna salad then decorates its bready abode with a selection of cheese and veggies.
Sheridan’s Frozen Custard serves up frosty peaks and icy slopes of gourmet frozen custard—a creamy dairy concoction served 25 degrees warmer than ice cream—and a bevy of other hot and cold desserts and drinks. The frost-bound menu features traditional custard flavors and premium toppings such as roasted pecans, New York cheesecake, and brownie chunks that can be placed inside your choice of cup, cone, milkshake, or sundae. Custard connoisseurs looking to shake up their velvety-smooth routine can try Sheridan’s Dirt & Worms concrete ($3.98 for a regular size), a tasty treat made by mixing vanilla custard, Oreo cookies, and gelatinous earth worms. Scale the chocolate-drizzled shell of the Royal Turtle ($4.54), a reptilian dessert swathed in gleaming caramel jewels and crowned with roasted pecans and cherries, or de-ice frozen mouth pipes with the caramel macchiato, a smoldering medley of rich espresso, vanilla syrup, and caramel steamed milk.
Café Annie’s blends the eclectic influences of Californian cuisine with classic Midwestern culinary traditions to create a delectable hybrid menu whipped up from fresh and local ingredients. Gardens of mixed greens support entree salads containing citrus-barbecue beef tips or poached salmon with sweet chili sauce, and Indian-inspired paratha wraps enfold fresh fare within fluffy flatbread. Café sandwiches trap apple-walnut-tuna salad or slow-roasted pulled pork betwixt bread slices, and the chefs practice their Euclidean geometry with pizzas that sport ingredients from san marzano tomato sauce to fresh mozzarella and portobello mushrooms. The café also spices up their offerings with a repertoire of breakfast and all-day menus that contain huevos rancheros, enchiladas, and an entire Spanish dictionary. An open-air patio seasons dishes with sunlight and refreshing breezes, whereas the warm interior accents the offbeat fare with quirky red and orange hanging lamps.
The Pettit family is used to getting up early. A tradition begun by bakery owner Richard Pettit in 1954, Richard's sons Bret and Mark are now the ones shaking themselves out of bed to ensure the scratch-made donuts, bismarks, and freshly baked pastries are hot and ready when the doors open at 4 a.m. Other morning morsels include homemade muffins, chewy cookies, and gooey cinnamon and pecan rolls, while pies are also baked each day to guarantee their freshness for special occasions or rumbles between warring gangs of clowns. For celebrations, the chefs can be also appointed to create custom cakes for weddings and birthdays or decadent coffee cakes that help make any morning feel extra-special.