Tropical Smoothie Café's wholesome smoothies are filled to the gills with fresh fruit, juices, yogurt, chocolate, nuts, and healthful supplements, minimizing the crushing guilt of dessert consumption to a soft heartbeat emanating from the floorboards. Puréed potions such as Pomegranate Plunge (pomegranate, banana, strawberries, cranberry, $4.99) are stuffed with super fruit, and low-fat options, such as Mango Magic (mango, pineapples, non-fat yogurt, $4.29), trick gullible taste buds into believing that they are traversing a candy factory full of whipped-cream lollipops. Supercharged smoothies are stocked with a healthy dose of supplements, such as the Kiwi Citrus Green Tea's antioxidant-laden matcha charge or the Muscle Blaster's whey or soy protein ($4.89 each). Individual supplements can also be added to any other smoothie ($0.59 extra), boosting its magic points by +10.
In the dawn of 2013, Vicki Harry opened Thanks A Latte in Holly Springs with the help of her husband, their three children, and a family friend. Within the café's cozy interior, baristas pull shots of espresso and brew Larry's Beans coffee. They also concoct specialty drinks such as the Daydream, a latte infused with chocolate, coconut, and almond flavors. Patrons can pair sips with pastries such as blueberry scones or cinnamon rolls, or peruse a gift shop stocked with journals, jewelry, and other items from brands such as RuMe and Natural Life.
Though high-school teacher Jason Knight had an “entrepreneurial spirit” and dreamed of opening a cookie and ice cream parlor, he also didn’t know “anything about making ice cream,” as he once explained to the Winston-Salem Journal. Intrigued by his friend’s dream and eager to support him on this endeavor, Edgar Everett—a chiropractor by trade—joined forces with his college pal, and the two immersed themselves in all things sweet, from ice-cream-making seminars to baking classes; thus Cookies + Cream was born, sating sweet cravings with batches of freshly baked cookies and housemade ice cream.
In the years since handing a freshly minted waffle cone to his first customer, Jason has spent countless hours perfecting the recipes for 45 different flavors of ice cream, including inventive options such as banana macadamia chip, cinnamon stick, and caramel latte. Warm, fragrant clouds of baked cookies and brownies escape the kitchen and flood the shop, and milkshakes and sundaes cool down mouths overheated from fielding crank phone calls from auctioneers. Guests can get their treats to go or snuggle into the seating area as they sip their coffees and plug into the shop’s free WiFi. Jason and Edgar also host fundraising events on a regular basis. For example, Doggy Day is a benefit for Stepping Stones Canine Rescue replete with doggy ice cream, face painting, and pet caricature drawings for pups able to laugh at the size of their snouts.
Monte’s Sub Shop sates hunger with a menu of bread- and lettuce-based bites paired with flavorful sides. Savory meatball-and-marinara subs fill taste receptors with bold tomato flavors ($6 for a small; $8 for a large), and the sub club’s combination of ham, turkey, bacon, and cheese ($6.50 for a small; $8.50 for a large) satisfies desires for protein or supports top-heavy skyscrapers. Diners can opt for carb-free fare with Monte’s greek salad, tossed with tomatoes, olives, banana peppers, and feta cheese ($6), or partake in an antipasto salad adorned with capicola, genoa salami, provolone, and hot peppers ($6). A hunger-fighting side dish or free legal advice accompanies all of Monte’s fresh foodstuffs, including kettle-cooked chips dusted with various seasonings, baked-potato salad, tuna salad, and pickles.
Since 1949, The Peanut Roaster's Monahan family has roasted peanuts, experimenting with recipes to cultivate a slew of tasty variations on the salty snack. Classicists munch the simple flavors of gourmet mixed nuts ($22.50/20 oz.), and bold noshers salivate at the array of flavored nuts, such as mesquite carolina barbecue ($11.50/22 oz.). Indulge a craving for a cayenne-pepper-covered beehive with a jar of hot honey peanuts ($17.95/40 oz.), or test taste buds’ spice threshold with jalapeño peanuts ($11.50/22 oz.). Sweet teeth delight in myriad dessert nuts, including chocolate-covered almonds ($19.95/22 oz.) and decadent honey-roasted cinnamon pecans ($23.95/18 oz.). More chewable than pound cake and more durable than a pound of deli meat, a can of classic southern peanut brittle ($13.50/16 oz.) delivers a welcome gift any time of year.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop’s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Constant winner of best sub awards across the nation, Penn Station populates a menu with a dozen classic hoagie handhelds, served cold or toasted. The sammy constructors stack meat atop four sizes of bread ($4.49–$8.89) to form time-honored bready monuments such as the philadelphia cheesesteak, stuffed with 100% USDA Choice steak, or the slow-roasted corned beef Reuben topped with a sauerkraut and swiss. Veggie options, such as the grilled artichoke, keep dining light, and the create-your-own sub menu beckons to tinkerers to customize their sub or bedazzle their tote bags with a quintet of meats, four types of cheese, and a dozen toppings and condiments. Accessorize meals with fresh lemonade ($1.99–$2.59) and a heap of hand-cut fries ($1.79–$4.19), which the kitchen crew recruits fresh from Idaho potatoes and flash-fries in cholesterol-free peanut oil as Mr. Peanut slowly removes his monocle to wipe away a solitary tear.