A grilled cheese sandwich's fixings are pretty straightforward, but Tiny Ninja Cafe's menu spells them out, just in case: "Cheese + Cheese + Cheese." That dash of dry humor stands out on a menu that's serious about local food, from vegan scrambles with spinach, mushrooms, and imitation bacon, to sandwiches of smoked salmon and housemade pesto. To wash it all down, there's beer, wine, espresso, and smoothies such as the "liquid meal"—a blend of bananas, apple juice, blueberries, and avocado.
Food and drink aren't the only enticements on hand. The cafe's weekly live entertainment lineup includes musicians, DJs, and open mic nights. Free WiFi keeps you tethered to your email, and there are free Spanish classes every Monday.
You could call brothers George and Marcos Trejo artists. They make their small-batch, handcrafted chocolate bars and truffles right in their Green Lake storefront and transform their tasty treats into edible works of the imagination. What makes their chocolates unique is partly the high quality of the cocoa they use and partly the creative flavor combinations they come up with. On any given day, they might be infusing heavy dark chocolate blends with the citrusy tang of orange oil or mixing their truffles with the flavor of bourbon pecan or Mexican mango. In their store, they complement their cocoa-rich wares with other artful treats, such as small-batch ice cream—coincidentally, da Vinci’s first medium for the Mona Lisa.
Conceived in 2010 as a way to expose vibrant grassroots coffee culture to more people, Northwest Coffee Festival gathers local roasters, artisan chocolatiers, and other comestible makers for a weekend of food, drink, and demonstrations. During the two-day event, the pristinely appointed showrooms of the Seattle Design Center fill with the aroma of hot coffee, stirred by moving crowds who wander from booth to booth to witness artisans' brewing demonstrations or sample treats. In addition to coffee, the festival features beer, wine, and a holiday gift show where patrons can pick up the ideal trinket to stuff a stocking or booby-trap a sock.
After more than 25 years in corporate America, Charell moved to the small business world by opening Firefly Cafe & Creperie. Her cozy, artwork-adorned cafe fills daily with the inviting aromas of sweet and savory crepes, into which she piles everything from apple-smoked bacon to dulce de leche. She even whips up gluten-free and vegan versions including breakfast crepes with tofu scrambles and dessert crepes with sliced almonds and cashew cream. Along with beverages from her espresso bar, Charell complements mains with organic smoothies and juices chockfull of healthy fixings such as mango and kale.
At locations dotted all over the Pacific Northwest, Black Rock Coffee Bar’s baristas dazzle patrons' taste buds with their simple and elaborate coffee creations. Served in ink-black cups emblazoned with their understated lowercase logo and red stars, their hot drinks range from brewed coffee to chai-tea lattes to flavored mochas. The baristas infuse the mochas with extras—including white chocolate and caramel to create the caramel blondie and hazelnut to concoct the blackout mocha, which, unfortunately, will not make you black out for the entire workday. On the chilly side of the menu, their blended drinks include shake-like delights made sweeter with Oreos, mint chips, and chai, as well as smoothies and icy coffee granitas.
Cherry Street Coffee House displays local art, hosts live music, and holds events at each of its locations. Steam rises from blends of house coffees, forming the shape of perfume bottles that spritz the cafes with the aromas of Brazil nuts and dark cocoa. A medley of coffee beans from Papua New Guinea and Central and South America flavor the signature espresso, which guests can enjoy in between bites of house-made breakfast bagels, quiche, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Cherry Street's kitchen staff supplies a list of ingredients, highlighting which vibrant dishes are vegan, contain dairy and nuts, or plan to transform into dairy and nuts.