Ingredient whisperers at The Shade Tree Cafe transform family recipes into a homestyle menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches made from scratch daily. Guests can dip spoons into soulful spicy-chicken-vegetable or broccoli-cheese soup, which warms taste buds as they sort the subtle flavors of fresh broccoli florets, creamy american cheese, and aged cheddar eligible for its AARP card. All-white-meat chicken breast weds creamy mayo to create the popular chicken-salad sandwich, and guests who prefer thermal handhelds can opt for the turkey melt, which oozes with mozzarella, pesto, and buttered charm. Piles of mandarin oranges, strawberries, and walnuts, all dressed in scratch-made raspberry vinaigrette, play hide-and-seek within a lush green jungle of spring mix in the Shade Tree salad. The cozy café recently extended its hours to accommodate the strenuous work schedules of hungry sunrays.
Skillets of fajitas sizzle on their way to the dining room's deep booths. Chords from a Spanish guitar spill from the bar as laughs roll out from one of three banquet rooms. On the patio, some 40 tables share their brick-paved pen with a mechanical bull that snarls at passersby and inflatable moonwalks filled with playful children.
Such is a typical evening at Las Rosas Mexican Restaurant, where an unmistakable energy charges the entire facility. The current begins in the kitchen, where each day chefs follow family recipes to churn out handmade tamales, tortillas, and red and green sauces. The vibe then pulses through the dining room, where a white stone fireplace anchors an open space flanked by booths and 13 60-inch TVs that broadcast games and events. The patio hosts alfresco dining and amusements for the young and young-at-heart who aren't afraid to tumble off a carnival ride in public.
Begin your culinary journey with an order of spring rolls or cheese rolls, stuffed with raisin-studded rice paper and deep-fried (both $4.25). Classic dishes done well appease traditionalists, including spicy Tom Yum soup ($4.25–$5.25), pad Thai ($8.95), pad see eiw ($8.95), and five kinds of curry ($8.95–$9.95). Build a balanced meal with the entree and rice dishes including garlic and pepper lover ($8.95) with stir-fried meat tossed in black pepper sauce over cabbage. Diners can also pick from grilled selections ($10.95–$12.95), served with shrimp fried rice and steamed veggies. Cool off a spice-saturated palate with a sweet scoop of coconut ice cream ($3.50) for dessert. Expect friendly service, carefully curated curry, and a cozy ambiance at any of the eight outposts. Like the recipe for Play-Doh, Thai Cottage adheres to simple, timeless standards.
The saying “writing on the wall” typically refers to bad omens, but at Fish Place, it takes on a positive, and literal, connotation. Words such as “salad,” “gumbo,” and “shrimp” appear all over the wallpaper, foreshadowing the Cajun-style cuisine to come.
In addition to stirring up signature seafood gumbo, Fish Place’s chefs fill baskets with cooked-to-order crawfish, catfish, oysters, and shrimp. The chefs accompany their fried or blackened entrees with hushpuppies, french bread, or red beans and rice, rather than the traditional seafood side, sand. Tacos and po’ boys round out the menu.
Guests dally daily between Four Friends Tea Room's bright walls, supping on quality loose-leaf tea and simple sandwiches and purchasing art right off the walls. Chat up a chum in the intimate Gold Room, or reserve the main dining room, which seats up to 30 people, to host an extended pinkie-jousting tournament. The sumptuous selection of sandwiches, soups, and salads includes the triple-decker club ($7.50), the flaky croissant sandwich ($8.50), and a lovingly concocted salad of tender grilled chicken ($8.50). In addition to day-to-day high ($16) and low ($10) teas, the café carefully pours out tea-room samplers ($8) that give guests a tongue-tickling taste of the shop's leafy luster. The community quenchers at Four Friends Tea Room keep fans abreast of the latest menu items, events, and their incipient tradition of murder-mystery dinner theater on the café's Facebook page.