The inside joke behind the name of Lara Stuckey's bakery goes all the way back to her childhood. As she told the Fairfax Times, "When my sister and I said silly things, we would call them 'fluffy thoughts.'" The reference to her youth is appropriate, considering that's when Lara got her start at baking by whipping up treats in her Easy-Bake oven. Her pursuit of culinary skills continued throughout her life, including during a period when she would design cakes at night after returning home from her full-time therapist job. At the urging of her friends, Lara eventually left her job to dedicate herself to her true passion at Fluffy Thoughts Cakes.
The bakery looks as cheerful as the story behind its development. Bright baubles hang from the walls, spotlighting display cases of specialty cakes and cupcakes made with Valrhona chocolate, pure European butter, and fresh fruit. Cupcake flavors rotate frequently, but they typically include inventive creations such as an apple cupcake with bacon bits and a pina colada cupcake that gives you the ability to play the piano if you practice the piano a lot while you eat it. Lara is also a longtime painter and sketch artist, so sculpting towering specialty cakes with intricate designs and imaginative shapes comes naturally to her.
The menu at Austin Grill represents more than 20 years worth of authentic, time-tested Tex-Mex favorites seasoned with 15 different homemade salsas, sauces, and dressings. A belly-filling roadhouse burrito wraps a fresh flour tortilla around seasoned ground beef and beans, all topped with a drizzle of chili con queso and served with a side of rice ($11.99 at lunch, $11.49 at dinner). Put off cumbersome decision-making and sample the country western flavors of the Joe Ely Big Combo, a medley of a grilled chicken taco, a beef barbacoa enchilada with ancho chili sauce, and a hand-rolled chicken tamale topped with Texas chili ($14.99). A multi-colored Bevo Salad blends house greens, cotija cheese, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, corn relish, and crispy tortilla strips in tangy cilantro-lime vinaigrette ($7.99 at lunch, $9.99 at dinner). Mosey in on the weekends to lasso southern brunch specials such as the Austin eggs benedict ($11.49) and cornmeal pancakes with eggs and bacon ($9.59). Diners with more particular palates can direct their eyes toward the lengthy gluten-free menu.
CakeLove's baking staff, led by owner and Food Network's Sugar Rush host Warren Brown, specializes in cupcakes and cakes, baking batches from scratch daily with fresh, natural butter, sugar, eggs, and more. Each location's rotating selection of vanilla, chocolate, red-velvet, banana, carrot, and pumpkin cake bases is smothered with a variety of flavored buttercreams. Chocoholics can silence grumbling sweet tooths with creative concoctions like Cynthia's sin (chocolate cake dipped in chocolate ganache, topped with peanut butter buttercream, drizzled with chocolate and caramel, and sprinkled with candied peanuts), while those longing for a tropical getaway can abduct their tongue to a farflung locale with the lime on the coconut (shredded coconut and lime zest on a vanilla cupcake with lime buttercream). Cupcakes are $3.25 each, $19.50 for a half dozen, and $39 for a baker's dozen. Other sweet forms of gourmet baked goods ($2–$5), as well as the bakery's six-inch to 12-inch layer cakes ($25–$130), can sugary-up birthdays or candy-coat a van full of Shriner cars.
Since opening their first location in 1996, Robeks' associates and franchise owners across the country have been passionate about the benefits of healthier eating, and what they can do to help guests maintain active and healthy lifestyles, all through portable smoothies. Customers can step up to the counter and order from a menu of fresh, premium ingredients in unique, made-to-order combinations. Robeks Premium Fruit Smoothies aims to create innovative ways to reach the daily recommended 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables without compromising on flavor. Each Robeks Premium Fruit Smoothies location makes a concerted effort to support the neighborhood it resides in, through local organizations, such as Save the Children.
With over 700 locations across 20 different countries and a selection of more than 50 rotating flavors in the soft-serve machines at Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, there’s a flavor to suit everyone’s taste. The yogurt ranges from tangy lemon to refreshing mint and the sweet royal red velvet. After filling their cups, customers can adorn their yogurt with toppings from the bar such as candy pieces, fruit, and nuts.
To say Capital Teas? founders, Manelle and Peter Martino, know tea might be a bit of an understatement. Fifth-generation tea merchant Manelle?s great-great-grandfather, Francis Van Reyk, was a Dutch tea planter who immigrated in the 1870s to present-day Sri Lanka, where he planted and managed the Diyagama Tea Estate, from which the Martinos now source their Great Grandfather?s tea. Manelle?s family has been in the tea trade ever since, a tradition she has carried to her own specialty tea business, which has boutique locations throughout the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area. Additionally, Peter has become a popular speaker at World Tea Expos, where he frequently educates and inspires the tea world.
In addition to tea from Sri Lanka, Capital Teas carries more than 200 loose teas and herbal infusions from 18 countries including India, China, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya. A sniffing wall dispenses wafts of black, oolong, and green teas, and knowledgeable employees drift around the store?s tasting stations to explain each flavor?s nuances.
Capital Teas also pairs customers with accompaniments such as teapots, infusers, treats, and artisanal honey. In-store patrons may sample free tea samples?which are brewed fresh daily?while online purchasers receive a free sample with every order.