Every morning at Althea's Vault Café & Bakery begins the same way as the ovens flicker to life. From there, the staff proceeds to bake the day's assortment of breads, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, muffins, and other treats. Any of these goodies can create a satisfying breakfast alongside an espresso drink made from organic, fair-trade Firetrade Coffee beans, which are roasted to perfection above aromatic, mesquite-fueled flames. For lunch, the bakery features a bistro-style menu of artisanal sandwiches, burgers, and hearty salads.
After perusing the chalkboard menus of meals and beverages, diners are encouraged to linger and enjoy their order at one of the small tables that fill the intimate café space. Dark earthenware tiles complement the warm tones of the room's wooden accents and mocha-hued upper walls.
The founders of Orange Leaf started their business with the goal of finding a middle ground between rich scoops of ice cream and bland yogurt. Mission accomplished: they have created more than 65 tasty flavors, including pumpkin pie, gingerbread, blueberry banana, white chocolate, and Dole pineapple, that are both nutritious and tasty. After customers self-pump their selected flavors—which rotate regularly—they add toppings such as cereal, candy, nuts, and fruit. With finishing touches in place, a staff member weighs creations to price them or to determine their class in the shop’s underground yogurt-fighting ring.
The dairy aficionados at Rusty's Frozen Custard create icy, slowly churned goodies crafted so thick that customers are even encouraged to turn their treats upside down to fully appreciate their density. Luscious custards coat tongues in classic flavors of vanilla or strawberry, and when dunked into fountain drinks, create bubbly floats. Sundaes and shakes, meanwhile, can be outfitted with more than 35 toppings, including Oreo pieces, Nerds, or M&M's. Rusty’s crew also excels at making specialty drinks, such as lattes and low-fat smoothies, which can be enjoyed while relaxing on outdoor seating.
Unlike jerk-chicken pudding or fried-tuna Twinkies, ice cream makes for a delectable dessert that properly caps off any meal. At Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream and Treatery, patrons can sample a huge menu of ice cream and other treats that are sure to slap a smile on any face and massage taste buds with sugary strokes. Try ice cream in flavor combinations such as Strawberry Skateboard with sprinkles, gummy bears, and marshmallows, or Cotton Candy Ski Jump with M&Ms and mini-marshmallows. Ice-cream cupcakes ($12.95 per 6-pack) can be enjoyed with a spoon or spoon-fingers. Dream cakes ($19.95+), on the other hand, come in appropriately oneiric flavors such as Maggie's Mud and Chocolate Heaven, and are available in 6-inch, 8-inch, and sheet-cake sizes. Creamy milkshakes ($4.97) topped with Oreo cookies, peanut butter and marshmallows, or chocolate syrup and espresso, will perplex party attendees before blasting away reservations with deliciousness.