If the round, pastel-colored tables at Lynchburg’s Sundae Grill could speak, they might regale listeners with stories of their earlier life, spent at a Disney World café frequented by the park’s most animated characters. Given the same chance, the pink and baby-blue booths would not speak but rather sing; though they now host a continual stream of diners come to sample the restaurant’s famous burgers and sundaes, they once belonged to pop sensation Celine Dion. With more than 101 choices of ice cream and desserts—including a staggering 56 sundae options—Sundae Grill lives up to and continues to build on the legacies of its own furnishings. Though the diner’s marinated, seasoned, and charbroiled burgers have won local awards throughout the years, owners BH and Mrs. K insist on rounding out their menu with recipes culled from across America—BH personally traveled the country looking for the most interesting hot-dog recipes from each region. This same dedication to variety informs Mrs. K’s lengthy list of so-called super sundaes. Local favorites include a caramel-pecan combination topped with whipped cream and a Death by Chocolate selection served with a napkin that doubles as a last will and testament.
Each Bloop Frozen Yogurt location keeps a lineup of frozen yogurt machines churning out 10–16 rotating flavors in nonfat, low-fat, and no-sugar-added forms—not to mention nondairy sorbet options such as watermelon and pink lemonade. Cups pile high with Godiva dark chocolate, cake batter, and real strawberry yogurt and a wide array of toppings such as M&Ms, gummy worms, and seasonal fruits. The frozen treat innovators encourage enthusiasts to submit their own outrageous flavor ideas in hopes that one day, wishes for a yogurt inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey can finally be fulfilled. Every Bloop cup of yogurt purchased provides a cup of clean drinking water to areas in need through the A Cup 4 A Cup initiative. So far, the Bloop chain has donated more than 42,000 cups, and a goal for each new store is to provide a new drinking well to a needy community.
Ben & Jerry's came from humble beginnings—in 1978, its eponymous founders served ice cream out of a renovated Burlington gas station, and delivered pints of their now-classic flavors to grocery stores out of the back of Ben's VW Squareback wagon. Today, its myriad shops dispense cups, cones, shakes, and smoothies brimming with a variety of quirky flavors, including Phish Food and Cherry Garcia, named for famous revolutionary Cherry Garcia. Ben & Jerry's also offers Greek frozen yogurt in flavors such as banana peanut butter, raspberry fudge chunk, and blueberry vanilla graham. The duo is famous for their social responsibility, which is evident in their community activism and in their use of fair-trade products, such as cage-free eggs and sustainable, growth-hormone-free dairy.
Like a good book, the frozen-yogurt flavors at Frogurt can transport you to another time and place: there are flavors from exotic locales, such as Hawaiian pineapple and Tahitian vanilla. There’s a hint of summertime in their pink-lemonade sorbet, too, and it’d be easy to imagine celebrating your birthday in a cryogenic chamber with the birthday-cake-flavored frozen yogurt. Every day, 10 of these flavors occupy self-serve machines set against Frogurt's colorfully tiled walls. Many of them are sugar-free, low-fat, nonfat, or dairy-free and provide a healthy boost of probiotics. Feel free to personalize each serving with any of 95 kinds of toppings, such as peanuts, fruit boba, berries, and even breakfast cereals; at the register, you’ll be charged by the ounce.
The staff at Yogurt Cafe fills self-serve yogurt machines with a menu of flavors that rotate every 10 days. Guests sculpt smooth, spiraling hillocks of frozen yogurt ($0.45/ounce) in flavors such as carrot cake, classic vanilla or chocolate, and mango tango and heap on ornaments from a range of more than 50 toppings. Fresh fruit, candy corn, and butterscotch sauce help hide snowy yogurt peaks from scorned skiers, and the aromas of roasting Caribou coffee ($1.50–$1.70) drift in earthy clouds over mochas ($4.25), which warm up frozen windpipes and sluggish neurons. Sweet teeth sink into baked delights such as raspberry- walnut pastries ($1.99 for three) and blueberry scones ($2.25) to quiet tummies grumbling like Smokey the Bear touring a fireworks factory, and patrons check emails on Yogurt Cafe's free WiFi.
When they craft their seasonal menu, the cooks at AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar aren't looking to impress diners with unfamiliar dishes. Instead, they wow taste buds with rich, robust flavors, roasted duck breast to meatloaf kicked up a notch by chipotle cream sauce. For vegan and vegetarian visitors, AVA's culinary team draws on organic and local fruits, veggies, and grains to create meals such as vegan chicken and waffles. Meatless or not, each feast can be accompanied by pours from an award-winning wine list curated by the eatery's onsite sommelier. Bartenders also serve plenty of beer, as well as custom, exotic tea blends.