In a way, Big Dipper Ice Cream Shop specializes in fusion cuisine. The family-owned shop combines ice cream with a variety of desserts to make entirely new concoctions. For instance, their handmade ice cream flavors are infused with a host of candies that would feel right at home in a movie theater including Almond Joy and Snickers. Other flavors derive their tang from fresh fruit, as in the case of black raspberry and caramel apple. Still others owe their taste to classic confections such as cheesecake, licorice, and the popular dirty turtle, a mix of dark chocolate, pecans, and caramel.
There are more than 40 flavors in all behind the counter. And though you might miss out on mint oreo during one visit, you could get lucky the next time you stop by as the staff constantly rotates the selection. These staffers are also responsible for the shop's festive, community atmosphere that can make their sweets taste even sweeter, a fact that earned the shop a nomination for the 2013 Macaroni Kid Family Choice Awards. There's even a vending machine outside where customers can pick up pre-packaged servings to eat ice cream on the go without having to install a tiny freezer in their glove compartment.
The baristas at J. Arthur's Coffee strive to cultivate appreciation for artisanal coffee by focusing on unblended coffee with unique characteristics. The shop trades directly with farmers that use sustainable methods, developing relationships with individual coffee-bean producers who are dedicated to distributing high-quality beans that taste magical but don’t sprout into beanstalks. J. Arthur’s blends espresso drinks with whole and 1% milk from Autumnwood Farms, a local family-owned operation that only raises grass-fed cattle. As patrons sip lattes and scarf down house-made sandwiches, live musicians fill the air with soothing tunes.
Today's Groupon is good bedaubed in butter, covered with cream cheese, or hung upon a maypole before the opening ceremony of a child's lacrosse tournament. You get 13 New York-style bagels and two 8-oz. tubs of cream cheese for $7 at St. Paul Bagelry in Roseville (a $14 value). The Roseville Review hailed St. Paul Bagelry's flavorful foodstuffs as the Best Lunch Under $10.