Visit Cafe Euro and you might spot Dana Buric, brewing specialty coffee drinks and boxing European pastries alongside her son Dani and daughter Ira. They slice up fresh meats and vegetables for paninis and shower hearty pastas in savory dressing. Committed to recreating the relaxed atmosphere of a traditional European coffeehouse, they encourage guests to linger on the plush chairs of their sunlit cafe while enjoying complimentary Wi-Fi.
The confectioners at MB Sweets and Treats spruce up parties, weddings, or everyday meals with homemade truffles, cookies, tiered cakes, and cupcakes. Dozens of flavors of cupcakes treat tongues to delicacies such as Madagascar-bourbon-vanilla cake and strawberry-jelly-filled cupcakes with peanut-butter frosting. The bakers can customize larger cakes with personal greetings for birthdays or productivity spreadsheets for annual performance reviews.
Gathered around Shaquille O’Neal in front of the chalkboard scribbled with the day’s ice cream flavors, the staff of Taharka Bros. is positively beaming. While the visit from a basketball legend brings a crowd of admirers into their shop, Taharka’s ice cream wizards have no problem attracting throngs of fans sans the help of Shaq’s presence. Voted one of Baltimore's "Great Milkshakes" by The Baltimore Sun in 2011, and crowned "Best Ice Cream" by Baltimore Magazine in its Best of Baltimore 2010 edition, devotees are drawn in by the eatery's "irresistible ice-cream menu," which includes decadent flavors such as honey graham and salty caramel. Adding to the draw is its ability to "satisfy [your] ravenous social conscience" with its management training program that "offers the chance for urban youth to get a foothold in the workplace." Throughout the day, the entrepreneurial young staffers hone business skills as they hand-make batches of frozen confections using fresh ingredients such as fruits and magic beanstalk beans plucked from local farms. The sense of community and teamwork that goes into the creation of every scoop reflects Taharka Bros.' support of initiatives that uphold civic involvement, social justice, and cultural exchange through the arts.
Cake craftswoman Cynthia adds a sweet, artful touch to weddings, birthday parties, and events with custom cakes pulled fresh from her oven and wildly creative imagination. She sifts, mixes, and ices one-of-a-kind confectionery marvels—in chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet—to each client’s specifications. No two creations look the same, and each custom goody pushes her ingenuity as she achieves such unlikely designs as a Chucky doll, Nikon camera, or motorcycle. Traditional tiered cakes further demonstrate Cynthia’s artistry and attention to detail with precisely crafted flowers, lace, and filigree fit for the Queen of England’s midnight snack.
Whether seated on a patio overlooking stretches of grass or within a cozy dining room aglow with hanging lights, guests at Donna’s are treated to an array of tasty, upscale American dishes. The menu boasts a selection that changes weekly and may include quinoa and homemade falafel, five-spice ribs, salmon on cold noodles, or homemade tacos. From the expansive wine lists, guests select a glass of dry sparkling prosecco to pair with pizza or calamari or sip a seasonal cocktail such as the pineapple caipirinha. In addition to crafting delicious meals, the team at Donna’s offers cooking classes, during which they bake rustic breads, make pastas by hand, and quiet the melodramatic death throes of Italian vegetables.
Each day, the Timonium and Frederick branches brew eight different types of coffee (Annapolis brews six per day), mining from the Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company's coffee reserve, a treasure trove of around 120 different varieties of beans (full pounds start at $11.90). Types of coffee ($1.60 for 12 oz.) are offered on a rotating basis, with flavors such as coconut cream and pumpkin spice introducing new aromas to bored taste buds, as well as Swiss Water–decaffeinated varieties for those that love the taste of coffee but find themselves inadvertently building a shrine to Grease after two cups of regular joe. Introduce yourself to the well-crafted wares of Mother Earth with a cup of tea ($1.95 for 20 oz.)—the shop features more than 1,000 kinds of leaves for consumption—or go full throttle with a ribbon of 20 Eastern Shore tea bags (starting at $4.75) in more than 100 flavors. Try the fresh baked muffins ($2.25–$2.75 each), Italian gelato ($3.25, small; $4.50, large), bagels ($1.50; $0.75 extra for regular cream cheese), and other delicious pastries. Prices may vary by location.
At four stories tall, XS has plenty of room for surprises. Modern art hangs from the exposed brick walls in the deceptively large industrial building, where giant silver tubes stretch from hardwood floor to lofted ceiling and a sleek room with red-leather wall panels awaits discovery. On the ground floor, waiters weave around the wrought-iron staircase and stainless-steel tables bearing platters piled with sushi and Japanese fusion cuisine.
Every morning, these platters hoist breakfast items, including french-toast variations, goodie-stuffed omelets, and smoked salmon. By night, they carry stuffed maki rolls, kobe-beef burgers, and sweet-thai-chili tuna, as well as handcrafted cocktails. Nighttime is also when DJs spin hits, making for a combination nightclub-restaurant to rival CBGB’s, which of course stood for Consume Bacon, Get Bizzay.