The earthiness of freshly ground espresso mingles with the buttery scent of crepes cooking on the griddle all day at 407 Cafe. Chefs fold the lacelike golden circlets of batter around fillings such as roast beef and sharp cheddar cheese or Nutella and strawberries. With a sizzling drumroll, a panini press shuts on sandwiches until mozzarella cheese melts perfectly around grilled chicken, fresh spinach, and sweet yellow raisins. In the kitchen, cooks craft gelato, a delicate process of folding together eggs, milk, sugar, and loads of fruit. Glass vases on the white dining-room tables brim with coffee beans and bright-green stalks of bamboo like the diorama a biologist makes to get a PhD.
At Green Lemon Cafe, ceramic salt- and peppershakers masquerade as pairs of flamingos, crabs, and dairy cows. The figurines mirror the café's harmonious atmosphere: on any given day, patrons munch Fresh-inspired café fare, chat with owner Amanda Volence, or sprout goatees while browsing original artwork.
In the kitchen, chefs pack Boar's Head meats into savory crepes and paninis such as the black forest ham and swiss panini or the raspberry-chicken crepe with jack cheese and spinach. Alternately, cooks fill the apple-crisp crepe—1 of more than 30 crepe options—with cinnamon, apples, caramel, and graham-cracker crumbs.
Café Rouge sprinkles worldly charm all over its selection of salads, sandwiches, and house-made entrees. Culinary concoctions, such as a warm poached egg and crispy bacon salad ($9) and olive-oil-baked garlic and chili shrimp ($10), prepare flavor savorers for main dishes, including crispy salmon on sautéed asparagus with lemon and tarragon mayonnaise ($17), and shrimp and scallops over honey Sriracha fettuccine ($17). Just like the young substitute French teacher, Café Rouge is upscale and European, but at the same time, laid-back and soothing.
Blue Lemon Cafe quells hunger pangs morning, noon, and night with café cuisine of the sweet and savory variety. The menu of crepes, fruit smoothies, ice cream, and hearty sandwiches won the admiration of Metromix in 2010, earning the eatery a Best Café nod. Like John Wayne’s impersonation of Charles de Gaulle, the café blends American classics with a French twist, inviting diners to sip glasses of wine alongside their cheeseburgers, or dive into Francocentric food such as niçoise salad and quiche Lorraine. Between lime-green walls, circular tables and streamlined eggshell-white chairs create a hip, laid-back atmosphere permeated by free WiFi.
The culinary connoisseurs at El Caldo Puertorican Restaurant summon an array of spices, seafood, and meat for a satiating menu of succulent Caribbean fare. Mouths water when close to the thin-sliced palomilla steak ($9), which staggers under the weight of its accompanying onions and optional anvil as it arrives at the table, and bite-size fried chicken ($9) clings to the bone while lounging on plates. The paella’s medley of seafood includes mussels, scallops, and lobster, which join chorizo and beef tips before tickling taste buds ($20). By the end of slurping the seven potencia’s rich seafood broth ($17), diners are sated enough to stop diving for clams at the bottom of their bathtub.
Until midnight every day of the week, eclectic food and drinks flow freely at eXile Restaurant & Lounge. The bar is all about hosting fun times, with numerous TVs mounted on the walls and a calendar that reserves nights for live music, karaoke, a Spanish DJ, and a Top 40 DJ on a regular basis. To keep patrons energized enough to dance the tango on their hands, the kitchen prepares pub classics with an international twist. Flavors of Europe, the Middle East, and South America all make an appearance in dishes such as fresh caprese pizza, a blackened-tuna salad with blue cheese and walnuts, a chicken-burrito bowl with yellow rice, black beans, and sweet plantains, and a signature lasagna dish.