From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
Every day, Rita's serves up fresh, fruitified Italian ice ($2.39 for a regular) in more than 30 flavors, with sugar-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and trans-fat-free ices available. Achieve Ty Cobb–like levels of coolness with the Georgia peach ice, get caught in the rain of the refreshing piña colada, or visit the Sunshine State without leaving the comforts of your bomb shelter with the Florida orange. Other flavors include strawberry, root beer, Swedish Fish, chocolate chocolate chip, vanilla, key lime, the unearthly RitaBerrious (formerly Mystery Ice), and even a Peeps flavor. All ices are served within 36 hours of mixing, ensuring that Rita's customers are getting drinks as pure as the driven Technicolor snow.
Ice cream cools hot mouths, gives spoons a purpose, and turns into soup, so it's both a dessert and second course. Try one of Baskin-Robbins's ice cream cakes—including flavors such as fudge crunch, Oreo Cookie, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and brownie a la mode—or indulge in soft serve, ice cream, sundaes, and more. For other sweet treats, go with doughnuts, which are renowned for being a superior form of bread; standout flavors include blueberry cake, Bavarian creme, Boston creme, glazed cake, jelly filled, French cruller, apple crumb, and more. If you prefer non-sweet food, bite into a bagel or one of the oven-toasted flatbread sandwiches that come in flavors such as chicken parmesan, ham and swiss, and turkey, bacon and cheddar.
The charm and simplicity of the Maine lobster shack is heaved ashore at Georgetown's Tackle Box, which popped onto Bon Appétit's radar as one of the Best Seafood Restaurants of 2008. Just inside the door on a pocked brick wall, a weathered Old Glory greets diners as they stand before the counter's chalkboard menu to check on the day's fresh catch and wonder if sailors wear their ties in a figure-eight knot. Since Tackle Box shoulders a steadfast commitment to sustainability, each meal can vary, as cooks fry or grill the bounty of fishermen's nets that may swell with haddock or catfish.
Diners can choose smoked trout to pair with hand-cut fries or mac 'n' cheese, all of which they can enjoy at a fire-red picnic table. For an extra kick, fingers may dip fare or put out a burning dynamite fuse in a classic tartar or spicy marinara sauce.
Real-estate agent LaKisa Taylor may have been a longtime whiz in the business of brokering homes, but brokering cupcakes began as a hobby. As a thank-you to clients and potential buyers, LaKisa would bake and decorate batches of the confectionary delights. Her sweet tooth and background in event planning eventually propelled the pastime into a full-fledged career when she dreamed up Pretty Girl Cupcakery, named for her still-flourishing real-estate campaign, Pretty Girl County. Inside the shop's recently opened doors, LaKisa and her staff bake treats fresh each morning in an atmosphere more welcoming than a doormat carved from peanut brittle. Their classic menu keeps it simple with chocolate and vanilla, double chocolate and vanilla, half and half, and red-velvet cakes topped with rich buttercream frosting.
LaKisa and her team spread their passion for edible artistry at classes that broach subjects such as basic frosting techniques and crafting fondant that deliciously embellishes cakes. They also host themed bashes at the bakery, enveloping birthday kids and their guests in a world of pretty princesses or doll and tea parties.