Guests at Qarma Crêpes feel great for a lot of reasons. The most obvious, of course, is the shop's delicate sweet and savory crêpes. But in addition to the folds of pastry filled with lemon-thyme chicken, ham with smoked gouda, and s'mores with a dab of Nutella, diners get something else too. That's the knowledge that each dish's price tag goes to help charitable causes. The shop donates three cents of every dollar made to three new charities every month, one based locally, one nationally, and one internationally. The combined feeling of joy from these sensations might make guests want to indulge more, such as with a glass of beer, shake blended with a piece of pie, or a my-size castle made entirely out of crêpes and marshmallow creme.
Dandelion Communitea Cafe is a health-, environment-, and people-conscious cafe serving up fresh, local fare to fresh, local people seven days a week. The menu commencers include a Tex-Mex trio of whirled peas guacamole, black bean dip, and queso rock ($8), creamy hummus accented with hemp seed ($8), and the machos libre, a vegetarian twist on nachos with Dandelion's signature chili, organic corn chips, and homemade queso ($9). The quinoa pilaf in the native mama mix ($5) provides enough energy to win an arm-wrestling contest against a 'roided out rhinoceros, while the salads don't miss a veggie-bumping beet with options such as the Polynesian banana fantasy, a montage of spring greens, carrots, celery, and walnuts all tossed in a curry-inspired dressing ($8.50). The fakin lettuce and tomato replaces bacon with organic artisan tempeh and basil aioli ($7.50), and the kids menu includes an almond butter and jelly sandwich ($6) and organic cheddar grilled cheese ($7). The beverage menu contains more than four dozen varieties of organic teas, plus organic coffee and locally brewed beer.
Though Bubbles and Ice may give headliner status to its boba-tea smoothies and shaved snow cones, that's just the beginning of the eatery's sweet selection. The dessert bar also slings sinful delights, such as waffles topped with fresh fruit and deep-fried cheesecake drizzled in hot fudge. Just next door at its sister restaurant, Noodles and Rice Cafe, chefs specialize in savory Asian-fusion offerings. They let customers do their own cooking with hot pots filled with flavorful broth, and they whip up wonton soup studded with shrimp and pork—a house favorite. They can even create samplers that feature tiny portions of their bigger dishes, allowing guests to try a range of new foods without posing as a refrigerator auditor.
Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom, hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are more than 200 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.
Funky Monkey Wine Company knows how to fill a glass, but it's the way they fill plates that has earned them a dedicated following and multiple best-of awards from OpenTable diners. Chef de Cuisine Ashley Nickell creates seasonally-inspired Italian entrees such as bruschetta del giorno and pork saltimbocca, prepared with the skills she showcased on The Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen. Entrees pair with an extensive wine list, and a special wine dinner series presents special menus with accompanying varietals to highlight complementary flavors.