Located in an Erie landmark eatery, la bella entices appetites with an extensive menu of homemade dishes served in a casual setting. Wanting to look perfect for its big dinner plate, the curly-leaf spinach takes a quick dip into the deep fryer ($6), while the sweet italian sausage prefers a long, hot bath in a sweet-and-sour poached-fig-and-date sauce ($8). Patrons looking for traditional Italian specialties find the ragu bolognese ($15) leading a roster of palate-pleasing pastas, as the lobster mac 'n' cheese ($25) and honey-jalapeño ahi tuna ($18) flaunt their flavors elsewhere on the menu. A nearby plant hatchery supplies the key component for vegetarian classics such as the eggplant parmesan ($18) and the eggplant veracruz ($17). Gluten-free guidelines help diners discern diet-friendly dishes such as the bittersweet chocolate-apricot cake ($8).
The Flaming Ice Cube might as well be a good vibes factory. Part cafe, gift shop, and yarn shop, visitors can stop in for a veggie burger, knitting lesson, or soy candle. At the cafe, chefs craft homemade vegan plates from a menu that includes a BBQ chick'n sandwich and brown rice bowls layered with asian vegetables, marinated organic tempeh, and the cafe's signature plum sauce. Meanwhile, instructors get needles moving at knitting classes, during which participants learn knitting basics or more advanced techniques for creating hats, scarves, and impractical bikinis.
If tea is the thinking person's coffee, then coffee is the tea for the thinking person's action hero. Caffeinate and consume with today's Groupon: $5 for $10 worth of organic, fair-trade coffee and casual fare at Morning Glory Coffeehouse in Morningside. Open every day, Morning Glory features free WiFi, signature sips, and intimate live music.
More than 50 creative and classic toppings crown freshly kneaded dough at J's Pizza Market, which has claimed a Readers' Choice award for best pizza from MentorPatch for its pizza-crafting prowess. Patrons can choose from 34 specialty pies for at-home cooking or hunker down for in-eatery feasts. Gluten-free, white, or wheat crusts bubble atop a provided take-home pizza disk that emulates the cooking abilities and imperviousness to wolves of a brick oven, browning a variety of toppings, including barbecue pork. The restaurant's in-house wood stone hearth oven melts the Little Havana pizza's vegetarian blend of black olives, banana peppers, red onions, and tomatoes into a bed of cheddar and mozzarella atop black-bean sauce. Meat-laden sandwiches and crisp salads are also available as alternatives to circular sustenance.
Margaret and Phillip Nabors were ahead of the curve in championing natural and organic foods when they opened Mustard Seed Market & Café in 1981. To ensure the integrity of every item stocked on their shelves, the Nabors developed a list of golden standards—nine guidelines that range from a ban on high-fructose corn syrup to selling only cruelty-free cosmetics. This combination of rigor and passion has propelled Mustard Seed for more than 30 years, filling two locations with locally grown produce, fresh-baked vegan cookies, and naturally lean-but-tender beef from certified Piedmontese cattle, which are raised on an all-vegetarian diet free of steroids and antibiotics.
Today, the Nabors' children, Abraham and Gabe, have joined their parents in leading Mustard Seed's team of natural-foods experts—who include everyone from the customer-service associates to the stockers, ensuring that shoppers can find answers to their questions around every corner. The store also educates customers through classes and free lectures on topics such as California wines and what’s going to happen when they run out of letters to name the vitamins.
Bootleggers Bar and Grill fills hollow bellies with an extensive and eclectic menu of American classics plated up within a warm, casual atmosphere. Share a premeal snack of chicken or beef macho nachos, a mixture of chili con queso, refried beans, sweet peppers, and shredded cheese blanketing house-made tortilla chips ($5.99) while discussing the benefits of naming children Chevy Nova, or prepare solo stomachs with the popular Texas-seasoned baked-potato soup ($2.50 for a cup, $3.75 for a bowl).