Generally speaking, there's not a bubble to be found in bubble tea. Instead, the "bubbles" that the cold Taiwanese drink takes its name from are chewy tapioca pearls or jellies resting at the bottom of the glass, waiting for a straw to suck them up. The tea is there, however—but it's not alone. Mixed with it is the flavor of mango, matcha, or peppermint. In fact, at Steepery Tea Bar—owned by the same aficionados as the Tea Garden—more than 30 flavors combine with 10 bubble varieties to exercise creative muscles and comfort anyone who's afraid of repeating themselves.
Bubble tea is just one of the drinks at Steepery Tea Bar. And it's not even the only drink that can contain bubbles. Shakes and coolers can also hold the chewy treasures in their depths, as well as the cafe's signature drinks such as the royal tea latte. Of course, being a tea bar, Steepery brews up hot drinks too. More than 50 kinds of green, black, white, and herbal loose-leaf tea—most of which are fair-trade, organic, and inclined to give only positive fortunes to tellers—fill cups and pots.
The menu at Café Cravings, sister restaurant to Cravings Wine Bar & Grille, is in essence an encyclopedia of classic American cuisine. There are the sandwiches, which run the gamut from crisp BLTs and triple-decker clubs to the sizzling, strawberry-kissed Monte Cristo. There are the soups, which fill sourdough bread bowls, and the rotating selection of quiches. But most impressive has to be the breakfast. The 25-strong selection is served all day, ensuring that even those who wake up late or have their watch on backward get a bite of fluffy, ham-stuffed Denver omelets and apple-walnut pancakes topped with maple butter.
The eight-page dessert menu is no slouch either. Those who call ahead get their pick of whole cakes, tarts, cobblers, pies, cheesecakes, and other sugar-laden delicacies, which they can pick up inside or at the convenient drive-through window.
The culinary team at Common Roots Cafe believes that the best way to create a welcoming restaurant is to fully embrace local flavor in every sense of the word. Even the interior speaks to this mission—reclaimed barn wood makes up the dining room's floorboards and tabletops, the counter is composed of recycled cardboard, and the air is one-hundred percent Minnesotan. The overall effect is one of casual warmth, an atmosphere that makes the cafe an ideal spot for guests to chew on eclectic, yet accessible, cuisine and relax with a choice of 10 local craft beers.
The menu itself also bursts with hometown pride, highlighting local organic and sustainable ingredients. As much as half of the restaurant's food comes from farms located within 250 miles of Minneapolis, while some produce is picked right outside the door at the cafe's urban garden. And since the selection of ingredients alters with the seasons, the chefs adapt their dishes each month to showcase their fresh flavors. Previous offerings have included redfish tacos with jicama slaw, mac 'n' cheese with local cheddar, and house-made tagliatelle pasta topped with a hearty bison bolognese sauce. Bites are complemented with sips from a drink list featuring wines—many made from organic grapes—and local beers. And, in the unlikely event that diners leave any food on their plates, the scraps are carefully composted to continue the cafe's green production cycle.
The aroma of brewing organic, fair-trade coffee from Brazil wafts through the air at 50th Street Cafe during breakfast and lunch. Behind the breakfast counter, cooks work to reinvent classic breakfast dishes. They flip pancakes made with cookie dough and drizzle them with chocolate or add fresh mozzarella and basil-pesto hollandaise to unorthodox omelets. Farm-fresh eggs and housemade hash browns, early-morning staples, arrive alongside less traditional panko-battered walleye fillets. The griddle sizzles like a knight in shining armor left in a hot car, laden with half-pound patties of Cattleman’s Selection ground beef, which end up on thick-cut sourdough toast with Old Smokehouse bacon and melted swiss cheese. That heat is also reflected in the bright hues of yellow tile and orange accents as well as whimsical calico-patterned carpets. The staff at 50th Street Cafe works to reduce its collective carbon footprint by using recyclable materials.
In 1944, Reino Wuollet opened a small bakery where he prepared fresh bread each day. More than 65 years later, his humble shop has grown into six locations where 30 or so family members tinker over cakes, pastries, and pies. Wedding and other occasion cakes are one of their specialties; flavors such as chocolate mousse and Lady Baltimore can be coated with marzipan, buttercream frosting, or fondant in an impressive array of custom designs. Of course, they still bake breads: an international selection of loaves includes baguettes, challah, Swedish lympa, Irish soda bread, and buns shaped into busts of United Nations delegates.
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 seasonally appropriate autumn spice blend 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.