When recalling how his Yiayia—or grandmother—taught him to make baklava, the eldest brother of the Nicolopoulos family remembers the way she would painstakingly roll out homemade sheets of phyllo dough onto a clean white sheet. Rolling it thinner and thinner, she would drizzle it with melted butter to keep it soft and moist until finally the delicate dough was so thin her grandson could see right through it to read the words "one hundred percent cotton" on the sheet label beneath. "I didn't realize it then," he says, "but Yiayia was teaching me patience, about quality, and about our heritage."
Fifty years later, that same dedication to quality and heritage permeates the Nicolopoulos' pastry shop, which owes its name to the family's patient matriarch. Each of the shop's dulcet Greek desserts is whipped up using all-natural ingredients—including eggs from free-roaming hens that are cage- and antibiotic-free––and generations-old recipes. To craft rectangles of baklava in true Yiayia Maria style, pastry architects scrupulously hand assemble 30 layers of paper-thin organic phyllo dough, keeping careful eyes out for gusts of wind as they spread a butter-and-nut mixture between each tier. Sweet honey soaks through the pastry structure, seeping into each phyllo wall before the family's signature clove is placed on each piece. Honey also plays a starring role in Yiayia's finikia cookies—which feature hints of cinnamon, clove, and orange in the subtly sweet morsels dusted with walnuts—and tart-like pasta flora butter cookies take a dip in the sweet stuff after being filled with apricot, strawberry, or raspberry preserves.
Ever since Baskin Robbins began its dessert fashion show in 1953, more than 1,000 original flavors have sauntered across the nation's tongue runways, 31 at a time. With the ice creamery's iconic pink sampling spoons as your guide, taste-test as many as you like until you find the flavor that gives your soul a back rub, whether it's a classic flavor such as rocky road single scoop ($2.49) or a seasonal serving of Love Potion #31—white chocolate and raspberry ice cream loaded with raspberry-filled chocolate hearts—and America's Birthday Cake ($3.99). Otherwise, keep it simple and bury your face within the flavor of the month. The ice alchemists at Baskin Robbins can also transmute their ice cream and sherbet into drinkable desserts such as floats, freezes, and shakes ($4.39–$5.89).
Brewing buzz-worthy beans for more than 15 years, the Bernillo branch of Bad Ass Coffee satisfies sagacious taste buds with cups of joe sourced from Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Kona. Sample the caffeine-packed signature blend, made from 10% Hawaiian coffee and other worldly beans, or add spring to a sagging saunter with a creamy espresso. Deeply dormant patrons can pair their potables with some solid energy from a sizable menu of breakfast burritos ($4.25–$4.75), Hawaiian salads ($4.95), bagels and brownies ($1.50/$2.45), and more. The Big Kahuna double-meat chicken sandwich is served Christmas style ($6.75), covered in cheese and condiments and cupped between lumps of coal. Like banks and dentists, Bad Ass Coffee offers drive-thru service, helping the hurried and motor-bound rev up on the go. Those with a moment to sit can surf the Internet via the café's free WiFi. With the purchase of your Groupon, you will also receive a punch card from Bad Ass Coffee to help you make the best use of your caffeine-fix funds.
Anna and Sancho Soeiro operate their Canyon Road café five days a week, serving organic fare largely sourced from local farmers’ markets. Dish n' Spoon Cafe's menu spans soups, salads, and sandwiches (made with chicken-curry salad, for example, or roast beef and horseradish), and caters to the noncarnivorous with veggie burgers and veggie lasagna. The café itself is housed in what was a one-room grocery store for 70 years; after moving in, the Soeiros decided to reflect the welcoming environment and community loyalty it represented in the repurposed space.
Cubbies of knickknacks, sculptures, and other gewgaws and gifts line the walls, creating an atmosphere of cozy, quaint chaos. The faces of frequent customers smile from a Star Wall of pictures, and kids chomp organic PB&J or grilled-cheese sandwiches before running off to play in the restaurant’s special kids’ corner. A Santa Fe Reporter write-up notes some of the café's Santa Fean charms—"quirkily mismatched" plates and silverware, and a patio where patrons can sprinkle sunshine and shredded clouds on their meals.
New Mexican correspondent Rob De Walt describes how, in 2009, Mayor David Coss declared August 14 Dish n’ Spoon Day in honor of the Soeiros’ consistent dedication to volunteer work and community service—they've been involved in historic preservation, the Buckaroo Ball, and a court-appointed advocate program for survivors of juvenile abuse or neglect. Every Monday, Dish n’ Spoon runs on a pay-what-you-can price structure, allowing patrons to live within their means or finally use that stash of leprechaun gold that banks refuse to convert to U.S. dollars.
Though the lunchtime munchfare may be expected, Your Play scrambles the café paradigm by welcoming both children and adults. The space has extensive indoor and outdoor play areas designed to reconcile the often mutually contradictory parental impulses to spend time with the kids and get out of the house. The café aspires to be a family hangout that fulfills both the grown-up need for caffeine and adult conversation and the childhood need to slip down a slide and yell common Latin phrases in public.