In her native Lebanon, Zakia mastered traditional Mediterranean recipes by preparing meals for her husband and seven children. After further refining her skills in another Minneapolis deli for more than 15 years, she finally opened her own shop in 2007.
Here, her pita sandwiches pack such tasty fixings as lentil and rice spreads or baked kibbe meat, both of which come crowned with Lebanese salad. Patrons can assemble their own sandwiches, too, with ingredients such as honey-wheat bread, pastrami, and chipotle spread. Zakia also showcases Lebanese specialties, including meatballs made from ground beef, parsley, and onion, not to mention plenty of vegan and gluten-free dishes. Everyday specialty entrees include favorites such as gyros and falafel plates, baked chicken, and kibbi, or baked meat squares culled from lean ground beef, cracked wheat, and savory onions.
Though inspired by the northern California cafés of the early 1980s, Espresso Royale fits right in with Michigan’s modern coffee drinkers—in 2014 readers of The Michigan Daily voted it Best Coffee Shop for the fifth 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.
Fru-Lala celebrates the healthier side of dessert by arranging marriages between a selection of four frozen yogurts and a plethora of flavor-enhancing toppings. A small cup of the classic California tart flavor ($2.99) should be enough to convince your paranoid palate to lower its jawbridge and let in an invasion of French vanilla, espresso, and pomegranate flavors. From there, advance to more-adventurous flavor concoctions by nose-diving into a large cup of pomegranate yogurt ($5.49) garnished with a pleasant sprinkling of toppings ($0.35 each) such as kiwi, lychee, and grapefruit. Or go a little crazy by adorning a coneful of French vanilla with gummi bears, blueberries, and mochi and then smearing it over a tinfoil hat while making bird noises. Crumbling bits of graham cracker over an espresso scoop, on the other hoof, will bring back nostalgic memories of cooking coffee s'mores over your computer's heat vent during long cubicle campouts.
Town Hall serves up inventive pub fare alongside homemade suds in an inviting, old-style atmosphere. Jump start the digestive apparatus with creative starters such as the mashed-potato pizza with bacon and sour cream ($7.95) or trick children into exchanging rare action figures for the glowing, golden-fried Wisconsin cheese curds ($6.95). For the main event, guests may look to the brewery's expansive menu, which boasts everything from tried-and-true comfort food such as pulled-pork sandwiches with melted swiss and sautéed onions ($7.95) to uncommon platters such as wild-rice-and-steak salad with creole buttermilk ranch ($10.25) and the fiery shredded-chicken sandwich served with mango salsa ($7.95).