The heady scents of Mediterranean food wafting from inside the Oasis Cafe & Juice Bar give away but a smidgeon of the many dishes that await within. Rich spices give personality to chicken shawarma, marinated beef, and falafel, each served alongside pita and hummus. And entrees such as the kafta skewers—ground beef mixed with parsley, onion, and spices—come with tangy tabouli salad and potatoes or rice, each one its own hearty meal.
That doesn't mean the savory items get all the attention here. The restaurant's juice cocktails combine fruit, ice cream, and nuts into treats that look as good as they taste. Cousins of milkshakes and parfaits, the tall glasses layer nectars and sliced fruit beneath a crown of whipped cream and nuts to be sipped by straw. Continuing on that sweet trend, the eatery's sheesha offerings infuse molasses tobacco with a variety of flavors, including mint and peach.
Delicious, exotic flavors describe more than just the food and beverages at 55 Café. A selection of sheeshas—flavored hookah tobaccos—marinated with flavours like double apple and mixed fruit juices share menu space with veggie wraps, chicken shawarma, and shish kebabs. Guests can have a seat in a padded chair and curb their hunger with a plate of falafel and fries before capping their meal with a hookah session to practice blowing smoke rings, considered the most romantic jewelry to gift someone.
CJs Cafe in Bronte calls people to gather together. They gather at arts events, such as live music performances, authors' readings, craft-making lessons. They gather to admire the ever-changing art on the walls, made by local artists and lending a whimsical air to the high-ceilinged, cozy space. They gather to break bread, choosing from a menu of healthy sandwiches, salads, and wraps, including options for those who eat vegan or gluten-free. They gather over steaming cups of organic fair-trade espresso, made the old-fashioned way, with a pull-method machine, rather than the more modern method of squeezing beans with a vise.
Yogurty's, a proudly Canadian company, claims that at their stores, no two customers have ever made the same exact treat twice. It would be nearly impossible—low- or no-fat, probiotic-rich frozen yogurt comes in more than 85 flavours, ranging from carmel latte to banana split to red velvet, and 65 toppings allow patrons to swirl, drizzle, and sprinkle tasty treats until they resemble works of icy art. Their gluten-free yogurt, a natural source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, is made from fresh milk right off of Canadian farms and supports healthy digestive systems and immunity. The cheerful stores showcase bright colors—nearly as bright as bubblegum and orange cream, topped with sour gummi worms, and rainbow sprinkles.
Jennifer Best couldn't sleep. A bout of fibromyalgia was keeping her wide awake, and though she experimented with allopathic and naturopathic sleep remedies, it was no use. Then she tried something new: a tea blend called Sweet Dreams. The brew was so effective that not only did it give Jennifer some much-needed shut-eye, but by morning it had inspired her to change careers. She explored the local loose-leaf-tea market and was amazed to find how many good varietals were out there, varietals she thought others might appreciate the way she had appreciated Sweet Dreams.
Jennifer started small, founding Steeped and Infused in 2007 as an online store that sold 20 different teas. But her fan base blossomed, and today the website—which now sells roughly 70 varieties—gains support from two brick-and-mortar retail stores. Like the queen's childhood toy box, her inventory includes everyday black, green, and rooibos teas, but also features yerba mate and pu-erh—a centuries old Chinese blend made from high-quality large leaves. She complements these with a small selection of accessories, such as tea filters and mesh steeping balls.
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If comfort food is supposed to evoke a sense of ease and familiarity, the Impossible Double Hank burger breaks rather severely with tradition. With its intimidating name and heaps of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bacon, and cheddar, the burger forces the brave patrons of Hank’s Tavern & Eats to confront their most delicious fears. Though less overwhelming than the double-portioned hamburgers, the tavern’s shrimp po’ boys, baby back ribs, and fish burritos are made with similarly fresh ingredients and prove just as tasty. While digging into these and other hearty eats, patrons can follow local sports on 20 TV screens and guesstimate their height by lying facedown on the 50-foot bar.