At least twice a week, the aroma of freshly fired coffee beans fills the air of The Bean Coffee & Wine Cafe as Dan, the café's owner, roasts his house blends. By night, Dan turns his attention to curating the café’s spirit-raising selection of microbrews, specialty beers, and 25 imported wines. Constantly evolving around the season and available local ingredients, the menu includes wraps with deli-sliced turkey, hot sandwiches such as the "Red-Feathered Pig," a gourmet grilled chicken sandwich with homemade cranberry/cherry mayo, and club sandwiches on the house's multigrain bread. Via a drive-thru window, staffers supply nonalcoholic drinks and eats to on-the-go guests and visitors testing their homemade hovercrafts.
At Cookies Cupcakes & Delights, head baker Colleen and her family keep ovens filled with a vast selection baked goodies, from their famous chocolate chip cookies to flavorful cupcakes. She creates her cupcakes in standard flavors, such as cherry and strawberry, and unique ones, such as the marshmallow-laden smores cupcake and the hot-fudge-and-cherry-topped sundae cupcake. To appease party hosts or those with food allergies, Colleen can also craft custom cakes shaped with edible fondant.
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. Other offerings include homemade soups and rolls. They are open all winter at this location.
When Shannon and her daughter Kate sought out a mother-daughter activity, they dodged the typical scrapbooking and quilting and instead opened Coffee Caboose. Their creation is a charming café specializing in espresso drinks, hot dogs loaded with toppings, and housemade baked goods. Often seen manning the counter or flapping limbs to create angels in coffee-grounds piles, they ensure the quality of their product by involving themselves in all aspects of their business. Each morning, Shannon and Kate showcase this dedication by serving up fresh-baked cinnamon rolls and steaming cups of coffee to commuters en route to the Northstar Train.
Opened by a pair of leaf-loving friends in 1999, The Mad Hatter Tea Room fills the 1916-built Anoka Post Office building with traditional English teas and trays bearing freshly baked scones and dainty sandwiches. At reserved seatings, guests sip and nibble from a cornucopia of tea services named after outlandish characters from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books and mathematical theorems. Tea sets the scene for leisurely afternoons, surrounded by spiraling chandeliers and pastel walls. On the way out, a boutique stocked with books and tea accessories lets guests tote the elegance to their own homes and backyard dirt bike rallies.
The menu at Café Cravings, sister restaurant to Cravings Wine Bar & Grille, is in essence an encyclopedia of classic American cuisine. There are the sandwiches, which run the gamut from crisp BLTs and triple-decker clubs to the sizzling, strawberry-kissed Monte Cristo. There are the soups, which fill sourdough bread bowls, and the rotating selection of quiches. But most impressive has to be the breakfast. The 25-strong selection is served all day, ensuring that even those who wake up late or have their watch on backward get a bite of fluffy, ham-stuffed Denver omelets and apple-walnut pancakes topped with maple butter.
The eight-page dessert menu is no slouch either. Those who call ahead get their pick of whole cakes, tarts, cobblers, pies, cheesecakes, and other sugar-laden delicacies, which they can pick up inside or at the convenient drive-through window.