The menu at Café Cravings, sister restaurant to Cravings Wine Bar & Grille, is in essence an encyclopedia of classic American cuisine. There are the sandwiches, which run the gamut from crisp BLTs and triple-decker clubs to the sizzling, strawberry-kissed Monte Cristo. There are the soups, which fill sourdough bread bowls, and the rotating selection of quiches. But most impressive has to be the breakfast. The 25-strong selection is served all day, ensuring that even those who wake up late or have their watch on backward get a bite of fluffy, ham-stuffed Denver omelets and apple-walnut pancakes topped with maple butter.
The eight-page dessert menu is no slouch either. Those who call ahead get their pick of whole cakes, tarts, cobblers, pies, cheesecakes, and other sugar-laden delicacies, which they can pick up inside or at the convenient drive-through window.
The baristas at J. Arthur's Coffee strive to cultivate appreciation for artisanal coffee by focusing on unblended coffee with unique characteristics. The shop trades directly with farmers that use sustainable methods, developing relationships with individual coffee-bean producers who are dedicated to distributing high-quality beans that taste magical but don’t sprout into beanstalks. J. Arthur’s blends espresso drinks with whole and 1% milk from Autumnwood Farms, a local family-owned operation that only raises grass-fed cattle. As patrons sip lattes and scarf down house-made sandwiches, live musicians fill the air with soothing tunes.
Since opening the doors of St. Paul Bagelry & Deli in 2007, sisters and co-owners Dodie Green and Peggy Teed have aspired to improve the lives of their customers with New York–style bagels, frothy smoothies, and freshly roasted coffee. Staffers also dole out stacked sandwiches during breakfast and lunch with piping hot cups of coffee and foamy lattes. For morning meetings and group get-togethers, catering trays can be delivered to your door piled high with scones, bagels, and an audio tape of a rooster crowing.
In a way, Big Dipper Ice Cream Shop specializes in fusion cuisine. The family-owned shop combines ice cream with a variety of desserts to make entirely new concoctions. For instance, their handmade ice cream flavors are infused with a host of candies that would feel right at home in a movie theater including Almond Joy and Snickers. Other flavors derive their tang from fresh fruit, as in the case of black raspberry and caramel apple. Still others owe their taste to classic confections such as cheesecake, licorice, and the popular dirty turtle, a mix of dark chocolate, pecans, and caramel.
There are more than 40 flavors in all behind the counter. And though you might miss out on mint oreo during one visit, you could get lucky the next time you stop by as the staff constantly rotates the selection. These staffers are also responsible for the shop's festive, community atmosphere that can make their sweets taste even sweeter, a fact that earned the shop a nomination for the 2013 Macaroni Kid Family Choice Awards. There's even a vending machine outside where customers can pick up pre-packaged servings to eat ice cream on the go without having to install a tiny freezer in their glove compartment.
Smooth Nutrition whips up healthy, on-the-go meals that, on average, pack more than 20 grams of protein and weigh in at less than 230 calories. The menu features nearly 50 flavors divided into categories, including "Fruit Passion" and "Chocolate Lover," as well as vitalizing herbal teas and energy drinks. Aside from its wholesome elixirs, Smooth Nutrition further helps its customers achieve their wellness goals by offering Zumba classes twice per week.
The culinary team at Common Roots Cafe believes that the best way to create a welcoming restaurant is to fully embrace local flavor in every sense of the word. Even the interior speaks to this mission—reclaimed barn wood makes up the dining room's floorboards and tabletops, the counter is composed of recycled cardboard, and the air is one-hundred percent Minnesotan. The overall effect is one of casual warmth, an atmosphere that makes the cafe an ideal spot for guests to chew on eclectic, yet accessible, cuisine and relax with a choice of 10 local craft beers.
The menu itself also bursts with hometown pride, highlighting local organic and sustainable ingredients. As much as half of the restaurant's food comes from farms located within 250 miles of Minneapolis, while some produce is picked right outside the door at the cafe's urban garden. And since the selection of ingredients alters with the seasons, the chefs adapt their dishes each month to showcase their fresh flavors. Previous offerings have included redfish tacos with jicama slaw, mac 'n' cheese with local cheddar, and house-made tagliatelle pasta topped with a hearty bison bolognese sauce. Bites are complemented with sips from a drink list featuring wines—many made from organic grapes—and local beers. And, in the unlikely event that diners leave any food on their plates, the scraps are carefully composted to continue the cafe's green production cycle.