Within a warmly lit exposed-brick interior, the flavor mavens at Manakeesh Cafe Bakery prepare a bounty of Lebanese-American fusion dishes lauded by ABC-6 news and Philadelphia magazine. Halal meats share the menu with vegetarian and vegan options as well as savory starters. Freshly baked manakeesh flatbread sandwiches journey through an open-flame oven, allowing guests to detail each movement with their own suspenseful voiceover narration. Diners can opt for a yogurt-cheese-spread labneh sandwich or invite the shawarma, which tucks sirloin into a fluffy flatbread coverlet, to a mouth sleepover party. A piece of the café's signature baklava soothes sweet teeth, and a strong Turkish coffee can fortify an extended stay inside a Trojan horse.
Cream & Sugar's effervescent hostesses sprinkle parties with garnishing expertise and all of the edible ingredients for 75 minutes of frosted fun. Select a cupcake-decorating party, where up to six sweet-toothed guests adorn one dozen cupcakes in three colors of rich butter-cream frosting. The party host selects of the number of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes in advance, then nominates two of four flavors of butter cream fresh for the topping. Dexterous instructors sculpt immaculate frosted flowers and Sesame Street characters to illustrate proper techniques to pupils, and ambitious fingers can dip into frosting to append sprinkles and m&m's for finger-licking extra credit.
A destination for exploration, Whispering Leaves Herb & Sip Shop features an immense inventory of teas, herbs, and spices to add new aromas and flavors to meals and tea time. Certified organic teas such as yerba mate and pu-erh sit side by side with boldly caffeinated teas such as earl grey and english breakfast. Aromatic blends of non-caffeinated tea combine the flavor and scent of fruits and herbs, such as raspberry rose petal and organic ginger. Once visitors have found their chosen tea, they can take the leaves home or have the tea brewed so they can sit in the café, sip their steamy beverage, and interpret messages in the fog that forms on their glasses.
Taking to heart the idea that three is a magic number, the owners of Mugshots CoffeeHouse dedicate themselves to a triple bottom-line business model that supports people, profit, and the planet. Organic direct trade beans constitute the whole of the steamy coffee and espresso drinks served by the baristas, and locally raised, earth-friendly foodstuffs comprise each hot sandwich found on the menu. Much of the money generated by the brisk bean trade goes toward charities of both local and international origin. When not welcoming community organizations for meetings or fundraisers, the venue shows off its artsy side with film nights, open mics, and staged readings of VCR instructions.
Three floors below the glitzy Bistro St. Tropez lies another side of French cuisine. Chef Patrice Rames founded both establishments, and at Le Petit Cafe he shows off recipes that are no less carefully composed for being less formal. In addition to Illy coffee drinks, croissants, and classic French pastries, the menu presents quiche, salads, and sandwiches such as the croque monsieur or an ultra-savory combination of Virginia ham, thyme, caramelized onion, and gruyere.
The staff's minds may be in France much of the time, but their feet are planted firmly in Le Petit Cafe's actual neighborhood. They source as many ingredients as possible locally, complementing other green initiatives such as using compostable serving ware.
Open Monday through Saturday starting at 6 a.m., Coffee Aroma is a dependable little spot to nab simple breakfast and lunch items. Brewed coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, along with hearty sandwiches and salads, are the mainstay of this no-frills quick eatery.