Delicate, crispy crepe edges give way to a tender pastry center. Each paper-thin bite reveals a hidden filling such as lemon and sugar, nutella, or italian sausage. Le Cafe Creperie’s chefs have perfected their art with a five-step process: patrons can watch as cooks pour, spin, and flip their crepe, fill it with sweet or savory ingredients, then fold it to trap in the luscious flavors. Beyond crepes, Le Cafe also serves their own flatbread creations, "nanzzas." These unique pizzas are made with a foundation of Tandoori-naan flatbread and come baked in nine varieties such as pesto basil, spinach and chicken, chicken asiago, Mediterrranean, and tomato basil.
Wade Cohen is on a mission. Not content to merely fill mugs and bellies, he and his team at Coffee Works Too have crafted a community-oriented space designed to nurture creativity, advocacy, and friendship. An events calendar packed with open mic nights, live music, and karaoke helps bring these values to life, but it's Wade's personality that really drives the caf?'s positive energy. He's a dad and a Renaissance man, toastmaster, a music lover and karaoke fan who's constantly adding new hobbies to his repertoire. Wade's open-mindedness, and the priority he places on growth and evolution in personal life, lends to Thursday's Spiritual Grounds night, which features noted authors and professionals to enlighten the atmosphere. Of course, he doesn't forget the shop's commitment to serving delicious coffee, hand-crafted soups, salads, and gluten-free dishes, or the element of surprise. Coffee Works Too has seen legendary recording artists pop in to take the stage, which has caused some to say "you never know who will be walking through the door."
Taking to heart the idea that three is a magic number, the owners of Mugshots CoffeeHouse dedicate themselves to a triple bottom-line business model that supports people, profit, and the planet. Organic direct trade beans constitute the whole of the steamy coffee and espresso drinks served by the baristas, and locally raised, earth-friendly foodstuffs comprise each hot sandwich found on the menu. Much of the money generated by the brisk bean trade goes toward charities of both local and international origin. When not welcoming community organizations for meetings or fundraisers, the venue shows off its artsy side with film nights, open mics, and staged readings of VCR instructions.
Though it goes through its fair share of alligator meat and "Devil Dust," Beck's Cajun Cafe is not a medieval apothecary. Chefs receive alligator sausage directly from New Orleans, and dry rub the “Devil Dust" seasoning into cuts of meat awaiting the grill. This reverence for Cajun culinary tradition, along with many bowls of gumbo, has earned the stand its reputation as a Creole institution among the regulars of Reading Terminal Market. The squishy brain behind it all is chef Bill Beck, whose kitchen prowess has been documented on television programs, at Manhattan's James Beard House, and inside the homes of local hungry men. His menu layers traditional Louisiana eats with reinvented staples: beignets sell for Wednesday and Sunday breakfast along with egg, sausage, and cheese po’ boys. Lunchtime po’ boy variants feature fried oysters and catfish, and garnered the award for Best Sandwiches in Reading Terminal from Philadelphia magazine in 2011.
The secret behind Coffee Beanery's successful growth into more than 100 franchises is easy to spot: their roasting process. The company's master roaster skillfully toasts high-quality Arabica beans to create varied flavor profiles, from the slightly sweet to the dark and complex. These flavors come out when baristas brew the beans and blend them with steamed milk, chocolate shavings, and flavored syrups, creating the house's signature drinks. They specialize in drinks on the sweeter side, such as the rich chocolate ice fudge ripple and espresso frappalattes made with a choice of syrup. Guests looking to fuel up with food as well as caffeine can grab one of the cafe's signature toasted sandwiches or salads, creating meals that are satisfying and easy to eat on the go, unlike a watermelon on a stick.
Three floors below the glitzy Bistro St. Tropez lies another side of French cuisine. Chef Patrice Rames founded both establishments, and at Le Petit Cafe he shows off recipes that are no less carefully composed for being less formal. In addition to Illy coffee drinks, croissants, and classic French pastries, the menu presents quiche, salads, and sandwiches such as the croque monsieur or an ultra-savory combination of Virginia ham, thyme, caramelized onion, and gruyere.
The staff's minds may be in France much of the time, but their feet are planted firmly in Le Petit Cafe's actual neighborhood. They source as many ingredients as possible locally, complementing other green initiatives such as using compostable serving ware.