Sharing food is the heart of each dining experience at Skyline Cafe. Meals consist of Ethiopian stews crafted with meats, vegetables, and plenty of spices and herbs. But they do not arrive at tables in separate dishes; rather, chefs ladle a handful of stews onto a single platter for the entire group to feast upon. Dining as the Ethiopians do also means eschewing silverware. Instead, a housemade flatbread called injera is used to scoop up mouthfuls of stew and wipe faces clean after meals. Another Ethiopian tradition?the coffee ceremony?occurs daily when servers pour a special blend of coffee into tiny glasses for guests to slowly sip.
Behind the brick façade of Plush Gelato & Coffee, owners Dinh and Henry Luong handcraft a rainbow of velvety gelatos and sorbets to match a variety of custom-brewed coffee and lattes. Spheres of creamy gelato scooped away from frosty peaks woo sweet teeth with locally sourced and seasonal flavors such as chocolate hazelnut, nutella cookie, and vietnamese coffee ($3.75 for small; $4.50 for medium; $5.25 for large). Blood orange, strawberry, and mango juices freeze into smooth sorbet with a unique texture that comes from millions of microscopic crystals. Rather than licking a car battery, awaken somnolent palates with a large cup of piping hot coffee ($2.25) or a foamy latte ($3.75).
Smoothie King smoothies combine fresh fruit, natural juices, and special nutritional enhancers into more than 90 flavors (you can customize, add, and subtract the extras) of icy delight, all of which focus on achieving one of seven nutritional goals. Try an antioxidant-rich Pomegranate Punch with pomegranate, bananas, blueberries, apple juice, soy protein, and Turbinado sweetener to stay healthy. Weight-conscious en-smuthiasts can trim down and float away with the Celestial Cherry High, packed with bananas, black cherry, papaya, Turbinado, and honey, and unpacked with fat. You can also customize any smoothie by adding enhancers or “make it skinny” by cutting out the honey and Turbinado.
Cafe Sazon's cooks whip up signature dishes from scratch in 5–10 minutes, adding just enough "sazon," or seasoning, to give them mouth-watering flavor. Freshly made jalapeño hot sauce and beef-cube-laden pique macho alike are crafted from high-quality ingredients, which patrons can savor while seated on chairs or sofas. Unlimited internet access allows wireless modems to soak up radio waves until they get an even tan, and bilingual staff are on hand to help explain the menu or translate any novels patrons bring in.
The menu at Austin Grill represents more than 20 years worth of authentic, time-tested Tex-Mex favorites seasoned with 15 different homemade salsas, sauces, and dressings. A belly-filling roadhouse burrito wraps a fresh flour tortilla around seasoned ground beef and beans, all topped with a drizzle of chili con queso and served with a side of rice ($11.99 at lunch, $11.49 at dinner). Put off cumbersome decision-making and sample the country western flavors of the Joe Ely Big Combo, a medley of a grilled chicken taco, a beef barbacoa enchilada with ancho chili sauce, and a hand-rolled chicken tamale topped with Texas chili ($14.99). A multi-colored Bevo Salad blends house greens, cotija cheese, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, corn relish, and crispy tortilla strips in tangy cilantro-lime vinaigrette ($7.99 at lunch, $9.99 at dinner). Mosey in on the weekends to lasso southern brunch specials such as the Austin eggs benedict ($11.49) and cornmeal pancakes with eggs and bacon ($9.59). Diners with more particular palates can direct their eyes toward the lengthy gluten-free menu.
Beyond the warm, neighborhood atmosphere, Java Shack's many varieties of java, brewed from local Virginia roasts, have a much richer flavor than the corporate brews, as proven by favorite drinks like the Java Shack House Blend coffee ($1.90 for a medium) and classics like the creamy latte ($3.50, medium), rich espresso ($2.20, medium), cappuccino ($3.50, medium), and café mocha ($3.95, medium). You'll have no trouble learning your personable barista's name if you order a specialty Java Shack creation such as the Dale Special, an iced Americano with dashes of vanilla, caramel, and half-and-half. Java Shack’s many regulars also regularly gulp the Korinator, a latte with a bit of vanilla and caramel, and Java the Nut, a latte with hazelnut, vanilla, a drizzle of caramel, and several intergalactic bounty hunters in its employ. While the drink titles will help you learn their names, Java Shack employees rely solely upon their own social natures, and perhaps some light Facebook stalking, to learn yours. Baristas make the effort to remember not only customers’ names, but also favorite drinks and even backstories if you’re up for sharing without over-sharing.