Named both for the bakery's 21 flavors and as a nod to the owners' son, who has Down syndrome—a disorder stemming from an extra copy of the 21st chromosome—TwentyOne Cakes crafts confections of every size within its sky-and-toffee-hued café. The lineup of seasonal flavors, such as german chocolate, gingerbread, and maple bacon, takes on colorful frosting and chatty personalities as it transforms into full cakes, three sizes of cupcakes, and bite-size cake balls. The eatery's brigade of tables mingles with a pair of comfy armchairs to give patrons respite during sugar comas, and free WiFi keeps brains busy in between sips of coffee or tea. As part of the company's mission to bring acceptance and awareness of individuals with Down syndrome, 10 percent of each purchase at TwentyOne Cakes goes to benefit Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks.
At Lola’s Pastries & Eatery, the aromas of fresh, homemade pastries waft through the air as passionate cooks craft sandwiches from Grandma Lola’s original recipes. The breakfast menu is populated with a slew of made-from-scratch delights, including Lola’s Irresistible cinnamon rolls ($2.39) and coffeecake that douses succulent crumbles of moist cake in fresh-roasted coffee ($2.19). Fresh-baked jumbo muffins fill opponents’ mouths during heated morning bird-watching debates ($1.79), and on-the-go breakfasts, such as the heart-healthy muffin and fruit trio paired with custom-blended, locally roasted coffee ($4.39), facilitate efficient early-morning existences.
A muscle car squeals into a parking space by the patio, Cruisin’ USA Frozen Custard’s neon sign reflected in its polished red chrome. At the umbrella-clad tables, families eating hot dogs and couples sharing banana splits pause to admire the ride. Though this scene seems straight out of the 1950s, it’s commonplace on summery Saturday nights in Nixa. Cruisin’ USA Frozen Custard regularly hosts concerts and fills its parking lot with vintage cars, motorcycles, and souped-up hot rods. Customers dropping by can enhance the classic American scene with classic American eats, including sandwiches, malts, custard-based concretes, and deep-fried El Caminos.
Starlighters' owner Laura Hawkins and Johnny Lambert draw upon decades of dance experience to preside over a troupe of professional performers who lead hoofers of all ages through ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz, and ballroom moves. In weekly 75-minute sessions, tap classes let percussive pedagogues introduce steps from classic Broadway styling and informal Morse code. Ballet aficionados lead students through five basic positions and into advanced on-point pirouettes, and modern-dance coaches fuse Afro-Cuban, Latin, and lyric styles. Solo coryphées or couples in ballroom-dancing sessions learn to perform basic steps and advanced lifts while tracking progress in studio mirrors. Dancers twirl and leap in two modern studios with sprung hardwood flooring that minimize stress on joints and maximize envy from regular hardwood tree houses.
The cooks at Maru Sushi & Grill prepare pan-Asian feasts such as Springfield-style cashew chicken, drawing from the cuisine of Japan, China, Thailand, and beyond. Diners clasp sushi rolls loaded with crab, lobster, and mango, which, according to News-Leader.com, are served on a "cast-iron plate that sits atop flames." The sushi and sashimi at Maru is present with beautiful combinations of texture and design. Patrons wash down meals with a selection of drinks that includes Japanese beers, sake, and soju.
Martin Hernandez grew up with 14 siblings in the city of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. That's where their community taught them the importance of family and hard work, but no one more so than their mother. She created flavorful, fresh meals for the family, never cutting any corners. As the owner of Primas Mexican Grill, Martin has the chance to recreate not only the homemade meals, but also the festive family atmosphere at his restaurant.
Along with a talented staff, Martin pays homage to his mother with traditional Mexican house specialties: pico de gallo, smothered carnitas, fish tacos, and fajitas, to name a few. But the menu doesn't adhere strictly to south-of-the-border fare. There are also American favorites such as burgers and steak served with fries.
Hawthorne's Backyard's culinary architects animate the American fare, such as burgers, ribs, and roasts, depicted on the menu. An appetizer of loaded chili cheese fries, which swim in green onions and sour cream ($5.99), can prep palates for an appointment with a hearty entree. Momma's pot-roast sandwich, a pulled-pork tenderloin cooked in homemade barbecue sauce and set inside a hoagie bun, frolics across taste-bud territory ($8.50), and the backyard double cheeseburger dually satiates meat and dairy yearnings ($10.50). A full slab of signature baby-back ribs comes to tables drenched in barbecue sauce and, like a subpoena from a grandmother, is served with cinnamon apples and sweet-potato fries ($18.99).