The menu at Life Bar is designed to keep bodies humming at optimal levels?whether increasing energy, shedding a few pounds, or looking for a vitamin boost. Starting with 100% plant-based super-food smoothies, staffers blend a healthful mix of coconut milk, raw honey, and all organic produce such as ginger and organic pineapple. Add on individual boosters for an extra kick of antioxidants, proteins, or vitamins; bee pollen to promote longevity; and hemp-seed protein to promote healthy cholesterol levels. Customers on the go may use the online app to pre-order drinks.
Bolstered by chocolate-making credentials gained by studying in Italy and San Francisco, Coco's Chocolate Cafe owner Fred Moore leads his team as they handcraft a menu of drinking chocolates and rich treats made from Valrhona and El Rey products. They give their signature turtles a twist with Madagascar vanilla beans, dip orange peels into pools of dark chocolate, and crown bourbon balls with sprinkles of chopped pecans. For romantic occasions, they also create lifelike chocolate roses ideal for presenting to a loved one or laying at the grave of a chocolate bunny. Inside the cozy café, warm lighting splashes from pendant lights onto tangerine walls and granite-topped tables as customers devour european mousse in white-chocolate cups and cool off with vanilla affogatos—chilled espresso and ice cream topped with fresh whipped cream and served in martini glasses. The shade of a red awning makes the outdoor patio's wrought-iron tables ideal for savoring homemade ice creams, such as peppermint-infused mint chocolate chip, espresso vanilla, and a vegan cashew-based variety.
A host of savory Mediterranean dishes fill plates at Eat a Pita, where cooks whip up dishes such as the Jerusalem, a fresh-sliced eggplant skillfully fried and surrounded by warm pita. Meaty gyros arrive in regular or Hercules sizes, as do Philly cheese steaks that sneak onto the international menu. Other entrees include grilled chicken kabobs with mushrooms and green peppers.
The owners of North End Café don't just purchase local produce: they also grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden in Simpsonville. Since April, 2003, their chefs have championed this focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Café's menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to vegetarian lasagnas, stir-fry, and cakes. For sharing, chefs build eclectic small plates such as crab cakes, fried goat-cheese ravioli, and almond-crusted brie. They also prepare a range of vegan and gluten-free dishes, taking care to avoid the pyrotechnics that result when steak and tofu touch.
To accompany these meals, bartenders pour American and international wines, and blend cocktails from fruit and old-fashioned ingredients. At the Highlands location, a brand-new tap system spouts 23 craft beers, including imperial IPAs and peppery black porters. In warmer months, the aromas of cooking and laughter of clientele also fill the Highlands location's new outdoor patio, an expansive wooden deck surrounded by leafy plants and tall, wispy trees.
Emily Peters, of Emma Lou's Cafe, transformed a historic 100-year-old home into a café and vintage boutique. Inside the first floor's dining room, servers deliver a rotating menu of café fare which has included mixed-greens salads tossed with mandarin oranges, fresh strawberries, and pecans and warm ham-and-brie sandwiches nestled between slices of ciabatta bread. Patrons may peruse vintage finds including jewelry, furniture, and postcards in the boutique area or meander out to the back courtyard on sunny days.
The menu at Funmi’s Café swims with the names of West African dishes, tangles of unfamiliar syllables. Kachumbari, asaro, and kelewele may sound intimidating initially, but they conceal a cuisine characterized by warmth and gentle spice. Kachumbari is an African spin on coleslaw, asaro is a goldenrod-hued yam porridge, and kelewele is a snack of fried plantains.
In the kitchen, chefs stir pots of stew and sauce, often eschewing meat and dairy to fill Funmi’s menu with vegan options. Beneath murals of circular huts on a colorful savannah, fair-trade organic coffee imported from Africa pours forth steam like a robot trying to understand the end of Of Mice and Men.