At first glance, the kitchen of Trophy Cupcakes and Party could be taken for that of a gourmet restaurant. Pure Madagascar-Bourbon vanilla and Valrhona cocoa from France line the shelves, and local sweet-cream butter, free-range eggs, and fresh fruit fill the fridge. These are the ingredients Jennifer Shea uses to craft her daily rotating cupcake flavors, from chocolate nutella to gluten-free red velvet. With the help of husband Michael Williamson, she distributes her decadent handheld desserts to three Seattle boutiques, which have garnered press attention to rival that of the city's finest eateries. Martha Stewart gushed about Jennifer's innovative and widely varied flavors, and Seattle magazine picked six Trophy creations for its 2008 list of the city's 95 best desserts.
To complement their cupcakes, Trophy Cupcakes stocks a curated selection of party supplies. A cocktail-style party room in Wallingford Center, which can accommodate up to 30 guests, is available to rent for birthday parties, baby showers, and superhero business meetings.
It bills itself as an espresso bar that’s “the cure for your weekday,” but Café Weekend offers much more than tasty lattes. To pair with cups of Caffe Vita espresso and organic coffee, the staff serves light lunches on weekdays and pastries on Saturdays. A selection of nostalgic penny candy and chocolate bars add a sugar rush to your caffeine fix.
The co-owners of Café Weekend also run a multidisciplinary studio, and as such the café doubles as an atelier (French for “workshop”). At the Hiawatha Lofts that sit above the café, artists, poets, and performers hone their crafts in dozens of studios. Back on street level, the café’s in-house craft room often hosts hands-on workshops, and a bookshelf inspires the creative spirit with selected books, alternative comics, and free copies of The Stranger and Vice.
Along with curating the workshop space, Café Weekend hosts a variety of neighborhood events, from block parties to flea markets to community food drives. It also ships in treats from local purveyors. The seasonal selection of wagashi, a traditional Japanese sweet, comes from Seattle confectionary Tokara—a shop that makes intricate Kyoto-style wagashi.
“You’ll be a born-again Thai food fan after tasting the bright, fire-cracker version [of pad thai]” said Seattle Magazine about the dish created by husband and wife team Poncharee and Wiley Frank. But the magazine–-which named Little Uncle the Best New Restaurant of 2012––didn't stop there. "The food dances on the palate, shot through with lime, zinging with vinegar, with the heat of chiles tamped down by coconut milk or soft, steamed jasmine rice." That Little Uncle should win such venerable praise from Seattle's foodie community is even more awe-inspiring considering the restaurant's long and winding road to the top of the food chain. A trip to Thailand first inspired the Frank’s endeavor into authentic Thai cooking, and they spent the next two years perfecting their street-style food with a series of pop-up restaurants and a farmers market stall, before permanently setting up shop at a take-out joint in Capitol Hill. Aside from that signature pad thai, they're also serving up dishes like braised beef cheeks, which are served stuffed into a steamed bun to make them 'walker friendly" and keep grandmas from pinching them.
At Taste of the Caribbean, the cooks don’t seem to care that their downtown Seattle restaurant is more than 3,200 miles from the shores of Jamaica. Their culinary talents shine through in every entrée they make, including jerk chicken, whole tilapia, and oxtails. Adding to the restaurant’s tropical vibe, the dining area boasts colorful walls and occasional live steel-drum acts.
Loving Hut’s name suits its peaceful mission: to create healthy dishes that benefit the body and show respect for the environment. Using vegan ingredients such as soy-based proteins and fresh vegetables, the chefs at each location create a unique menu of gourmet cuisine that serves as an accessible introduction to a plant-based diet; several of the restaurant's offerings can be made gluten-free as well. Vegan sandwiches and Asian-influenced noodle dishes and appetizers are paired with drinks such as smoothies and teas, each of them more refreshing than getting sprayed in the face with a seltzer bottle.
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.