Though the baking endeavors of Emerald City Cake Balls owner Roni Sanders include tiny treats, she strives to pack each bite-size morsel with a potent blend of flavors. The skilled baker mixes moist cake and brownies with frosting, fruit fillings, and puddings, swathes the bite-size morsels in a chocolate shell, and adorns them by hand with stripes of chocolate and dustings of sprinkles, earning her treats the spotlight on King 5’s New Day. She strives to match her treats’ lavish exteriors with equally uncommon flavor combinations: in addition to vanilla and chocolate, customers can bite into flavors such as maple pancake and caramel macchiato.
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
Near the tracks of Auburn's train terminal, The Station Bistro feeds the soul and appetite with hearty, homey meals that capture the brawny spirit of bygone conductors and brakemen. Four-egg omelets, piled-high burgers, lemon-kissed Alaskan cod, and juicy steaks alongside scoops of garlic mashed potatoes stand ready to sate hunger no matter the time of day. Leafy palms and potted trees shade diners at red-clad tables, and a mural depicting an 18th-century locomotive harks back to a time when engineers kept trains humming by feeding engines shovelfuls of Reubens.
At Iron Horse Casino, chips clack down on the green felt tables as joyful tension builds over big poker hands and the adrenaline-infused table games unfolding throughout the casino. The onsite restaurant keeps bellies fed with a hearty menu of American fare, serving up breakfast meals all day long. Patrons can cure parched throats hoarse from cheering over a big win with cocktails, beer, and wine, and live entertainers may or may not infuse their routines with subliminal messages on how to always win at roulette.
In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,150 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options, such as the pepperoni pretzel and eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs, slicing it into bite-size nuggets, or using it to build historically accurate Austrian villages. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
Chicago Willy’s dishes up crowd favorites such as Chicago-style hot dogs, fries, shakes, salads, and specialty burgers responsible for nabbing the eatery a nomination for King5.com’s 2010 Best Burger in Western Washington award. Chow down on the blue cheese burger caped in bacon, red onion mayo, and blue cheese crumbles ($5.69). Handmade onion rings ($2.79) buffer burgers and make elegant last-minute jewelry when a business lunch turns out to be a date. Diners can fork up a green salad crowned with grilled chicken ($5.29) or sink teeth into a classic Chicago dog, rendered Windy, with toppings such as mustard, onion, celery salt, hot peppers, and sweet relish ($3.39). Saccharine straw-fodder such as a peanut-butter malt ($3.99) provides a vital post-meal cool down. As they sip and munch, patrons bask in Chicago Willy’s laid-back atmosphere encompassed by murals of tropical cartoons, big-screen TVs, and a strict observance of the afternoon nap.