Crepes on Columbus fills its namesake dish—thin, made-to-order pancakes—with sweet and savory ingredients, imbuing each bite with Franco-Spanish flavors. The quaint café’s crepes adapt to any appetite, brimming with rich infusions such as nutella and strawberries or roasted chicken and ratatouille, and serve as emergency head coverings during freak downpours of jams and preserves. The friendly wait staff serves both breakfast and dinner all day, comingling omelets, juicy cuts of meat, and seafood on tabletops, sided with desserts and smoothies.
The chefs at Muscle Maker Grill put a healthy spin on flavorful dishes inspired by Italian, Asian, American, and southwestern cuisines. The chain was founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, a fitness enthusiast who grew weary of fast-food eateries that bogged customers down with unhealthy morsels and toys sculpted from butter. What began as a smoothie stand has expanded into a successful franchise that slings pastas, burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex–style wraps, and proudly displays the calorie content and relationship status of each dish on the menu.
Now an international brand of premium ice cream, Häagen-Dazs began as a humble, family-owned business in the Bronx. In the 1920's, Reuben Mattus sold his mother's fruit ices and ice-cream pops out of a horse-drawn wagon. For decades, the family business thrived, and around 1960, Reuben officially founded Häagen-Dazs. He chose the name to evoke Old World traditions and quality craftsmanship, the bedrocks of the brand. Originally, the ice cream came in just three flavors—vanilla, chocolate, and coffee—made from fine ingredients gathered from around the world, such as Belgian dark chocolate, hand-picked vanilla beans from Madagascar, and ice shaved from lunar glaciers. The resulting confections so delighted sweet teeth that the brand grew exponentially, leading to the creation of dozens of flavors and forays into sorbets and frozen yogurts.
Though Häagen-Dazs ice cream was immensely popular in grocery shops, their first parlor didn't open until 1976. Not far from the Mattus family's original ice-cream beat, the Brooklyn store sold ice cream as well as treats such as sundaes, shakes, and cakes. Shops eventually dotted the country and globe, wherein friendly ice-cream scoopers fill waffle cones, blend frosty coffee and ice-cream drinks, and wrap ice-cream cakes in bright ribbons.
Founded by ice-cream enthusiasts Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone Creamery has grown to more than 1,400 locations across North America. Each day, the shop's scoopers mix up fresh batches of ice cream and sorbet, which are served by the scoop, piled high in sundaes, and blended into shakes. After customers choose their desired flavor, the staff toss the chilly sustenance upon a slab of frozen granite, and fold in a smorgasbord of candy and nuts to achieve the ideal ice-cream-to-add-in ratio. Customer’s can dream up their own creations or opt for a signature masterpiece, sampling one of more than 11.5 million possible flavor combinations, which still await a brave conqueror to unlock them all. To accommodate sweets cravings at celebrations, the staff also dish out premade treats, such as ice-cream cakes and baked goods.
Drawing on his experience as chef and owner of Aesop's Table, executive chef Dominick Rappa constantly updates the menu of seasonally inspired fare at Rick's Cafe. Waiters serve wine and cocktails to pair with dishes topped with such toothsome curiosities as truffle porcini cream, chipotle ketchup, and marrownaise. Inspired by the character Rick Blaine from Casablanca, owner Joseph Aliotta steeps Rick's Cafe in a classic ambience set to big-band music—the building itself dates back from the Prohibition era, having sprouted from a single cluster of hops. Drinking glasses refract light onto an antique mahogany bar in front of an exposed brick wall. A fireplace illuminates cherry hardwood floors in the dining room, and a private outdoor patio hosts alfresco dining.
Customers at Caldwell Seafood Market & Cafe can take home morsels of fresh raw seafood handpicked daily from the Fulton Fish Market or sit down to sample the cafe’s menu of chef-prepared gourmet fare. At the market, adopt a fresh pound of plump pink shrimp, a heavy slab of Norwegian salmon, or a gaggle of glistening sea scallops to take home and cook for an evening feast. Prices for raw seafood vary daily depending on each variety’s market value and the number of engagement rings it swallowed before being caught. Then sidle up to the cafe to sample prepared fare such as grilled rainbow trout sprinkled in Cajun seasoning ($17.95) or the combo platter, on which a 4-ounce fillet bundled in breading beds down with three large fried shrimp, three jumbo sea scallops, and a teddy bear named Eddie ($19.95).