In 1996, in Washington State, taste tied the knot with health as the first Emerald City Smoothie location oversaw a marriage that, today, has grown to 50-plus locations across the United States. There was no exchange of vows, and objections—if any existed—were quickly muted by a chorus of "Mmms," as fresh-fruit smoothies treated sippers to healthy, on-the-go meals. To help patrons navigate its vast selection without a map made of crazy straws, Emerald City Smoothie divides its menu into categories, such as Boost My Immune System, Help Me Lose Weight, and Just for Kids. Past smoothies, nutrition weaves a common thread through each store's additional offerings, including meal alternatives, snacks, and supplements from major brands.
Inside the historical 1880 Southern Pacific Railway station, patrons gather to scoop up fresh food and goods from local farmers and artisans. This is the Wharf Marketplace, a seasonal-food hub that offers everything from local produce and cheese to fresh flowers and seafood. An onsite grab-and-go cafe fills shoppers with meals made using these wares, including eggs benedict in a warm tortilla, turkey pesto and grilled-cheese paninis, and salads topped with veggies.
The Wharf Marketplace often hosts events, too, including Taste It Thursday, which showcases wine from local vineyards, and Java and Jalopies, which shows off old hot rods.
As if in homage to simpler times, the menu lettered beautifully on The Ice Box's chalkboard is short and sweet. The main draw here is frozen treats, waffle cones piled high with Marianne's Ice Cream, and sweet popsicles made in-house in flavors such as thai iced tea. Diners construct a squarer meal when they order one of the shop's savory treats, including paninis fresh off the grill and crepes folded around turkey and avocado. Guests can sit outside and admire the retro-style signage; inside, they can lunch next to the 1928 combination stove-ice box and try to get it to tell who was really president back then.
Bikini-clad baristas roast gourmet coffee beans and concoct lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos. The coffee shop also refuels patrons with breakfast sandwiches, bowls of oatmeal, and pastries such as pecan streusels and warmed croissants.
Café Iveta's gourmet bakery slings award-winning scones ($2 each) into Santa Cruz's sustenance receptacles, with scone mixes blended in-house and crafted from artisan flour, organic sugar, Tahitian vanilla, and Belgian chocolate. Sconic scions include apple, blueberry, and raspberry. For those desiring something other than British quick-bread, Café Iveta also offers a menu of other fresh-baked favorites. Reach a truce with your taste buds by partaking of pastries ($1.65–$3.50) or the frittata of the day ($3.50), or launch into the lunch layer of the appetitosphere with sandwiches ($4.95–$5.50), pasta salad ($4.50), or soup du jour ($4.50). Guests can celebrate a valiant victory over victuals by toasting with a warm Lavazza espresso drink ($1.50–$4), a fresh-mulled lemonade ($2.75), or a lime-mint spritzer ($3.50).
A little family run spot, Saigon Bistro Express pours a heap of passion into every Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, noodle soup, and grilled sate skewer. Lemongrass tofu stars in vegetarian entrees, while fresh fruit shakes cool off palates still smarting from flavorful bites of spicy beef or chicken rice bowls. The cafe atmosphere is welcoming and casual, with orders taken at the counter and delivered to your table by restaurant staff. Throughout the day, customers breeze through the friendly, family-owned dining space, stopping in for a full meal or a quick bite.