Though inspired by the northern California cafés of the early 1980s, Espresso Royale fits right in with Michigan’s modern coffee drinkers—in 2012 readers of The Michigan Daily voted it Best Coffee Shop for the third year in a row. Their coffees include a house blend developed in 1987, which has since been joined by a chocolate-almond roast and a southern Italian-style espresso called Napoli. Royale's customers also clamor to the counter for favorites such as raspberry mochas, mint hot chocolates, and ginger dragon, a tea layered with fresh lemon and steeped ginger root that can be served iced or heated by a dragon named Ginger.
Melt is a concept studio that offers group exercise and personal training; it's not an exercise factory where rows of strangers run on treadmills that power cuckoo clocks, but rather a chic, imitate space where the staff works with the workouts and the heart, muscles, and mind exercise in unison. Class options range from Ballistic (cardio and strength training using physio-balls) and Chisel (a high-energy workout with TRX suspension straps, balance boards, and weights) to Vinyasa Yoga (movement between Yin poses using the rhythm of breath for meditative concentration). Each class is taught by one of the health-centric trainers, whose expertise in the wellness biz means a deeper understanding of their clients' fitness needs and hot dog habits.
Every winter, the YWCA’s Third Street program hosts its holiday party, a meal for more than 150 single-parent families held at the Madison Children's Museum. After families reconnect and enjoy a freshly cooked meal, Santa arrives to greet the children and take pictures with them. Families also receive gifts to give to their children to celebrate the holiday season. Third Street still needs help funding the event to cover the costs of food and the Santa-suit rental.
Formerly Moe’s Tavern, Diego’s Mexican Bistro updated its multilevel downtown location with a new chef and a new menu of traditional Mexican favorites that focuses on simple, fresh, flavorful ingredients and combinations. The meat, for example, avoids standard preparations: Guests can choose to pack smothered chimichangas or cornmeal-dough huaraches with chipotle roast chicken, Michoacán-style roast pork, or housemade mexican chorizo. The chef’s recipes also include mole—a gluten-free poblano sauce used to douse a vegetarian or chicken dish or a stumped game-show contestant, and customers can wash it all down with a bloody mary.
These changes are the result of giving the people what they want. “We’ve received a lot of feedback from customers who want quality Mexican food downtown," Mohammed Barketallah, owner of Diego’s and the former Frida Mexican Grill, told Madison.com. "So we’re bringing the most popular dishes from Frida’s while enhancing the entire menu.” Along with the menu updates, the decor also underwent some touchups. Frida’s iconic murals were unpacked along Diego’s sprawling, castle-esque space of exposed brick and skinny dining balconies. Flat-screen TVs and a pool table keep the restaurant lively during sports action, and an outdoor patio is tucked under the towering trees and lampposts that line State Street.
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