Although the cupcakes at hello, cupcake are served from behind a pristine white counter, the staff isn't afraid to get its hands dirty. The cupcakes?which come in classic flavors such as?chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet?are baked from scratch each day and topped with handmade buttercream frosting. The bakery also offers seasonal varieties and features a different cupcake each month, with flavors such as caramel apple, peanut butter and jelly, and root-beer float making appearances on the menu. And that's not counting the staff's limited-edition cupcakes, such as a vanilla-blackberry version whose proceeds benefited YWCA Pierce County's domestic-violence services.
Bubbles, named for the chewy spheres that lurk at the bottom of its Taiwanese-inspired tea beverages, mixes dozens of drink varieties at its downtown Tacoma location. Each tea starts with an iced or hot black, milk, or green tea—or a smoothie—that is flavored with almond, coffee, taro, or an array of real fruits such as lychee or mango. Lining the bottom of the cup are myriad bubble options, including the traditional tapioca balls, as well as egg custard, fruit-flavored jellies, or a single billiard ball. All teas are brewed fresh daily, and drinks are prepared following strict preparation guidelines.
At 6:30 each morning, the doors to Rain City Cafe and Coffee open to unleash the smell of freshly percolated espresso and coffee. The baristas pack the deli-counter cases with breakfast sandwiches from Mike’s East Coast Sanwiches, pastries from Corina’s Bakery, and bagels from Bagel Boyz.
While they import all of their morning eats, they craft their own afternoon meals. The resident sandwich artist, Sean, makes a selection of sammies, grilled paninis, giant wraps, and salads.
The list of ingredients that chefs fold into crepes at Savor Creperie is a bit staggering. On any given visit, you might be tempted to indulge a sweet tooth with a crepe drizzled with creme de coconut and mango lime sauce, or one stuffed with banana, toasted coconut, and Nutella. Then again, the savory-side of the menu has much to recommend it as well, such as crepes with smoked salmon and Boursin, or those rolled up with shredded pork, cabbage slaw, and hoisin.
Of course, no one says you need to compromise, and Savor's chefs have created a number of crepes that combine both sweet and savory ingredients,
pairing fresh thyme and aged gouda with juicy pears, and sneaking slices of crisp apple into leek and chicken fennel sausage crepes. Crepe scrambles, meanwhile, sate breakfast cravings any time of day, with a filling of scrambled eggs and a choice of fixings, such as
bacon, mushrooms, and brie. And no matter which crepe you choose, the kitchen staff are happy to replace their traditional batter with a gluten-free version
to accommodate food allergies or
just give the town wheat millers a short break.
If Open Arts Studio’s huge array of classes seems a bit eclectic, it’s partly a reflection of the diverse interests of its founder, John Armstrong. An intent student of visual arts since childhood, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in music and classical vocal performance; today, he teaches both drawing and music classes.
Armstrong, his wife Lucy, and their staff of instructors approach learning through three key elements: technique, creativity, and fun. They use this template to cultivate skill within a noncompetitive atmosphere combined with a structured curriculum—for instance, drawing teachers use the open-arts drawing method to help kids break down objects into easily grasped curves, angles, and shapes while encouraging them to develop a unique style of their own. Artwork lines the studio’s halls, and an exhibition with cookies, juice, and coffee punctuates each session with a chance to share students’ work with friends, family, and agents looking for the next big thing in crayon drawing.
B Sharp Coffee House isn't just a grab-and-go coffee shop. Its staff has consciously decided to focus on slower methods of brewing, and guests are encouraged to grab a chair and linger a while as baristas set to work.
To create these cups of coffee, the baristas start with sustainably harvested, locally roasted beans. They then grind the beans to the correct coarseness before putting them in a Chemex or French press or using pour over or vacuum techniques.
But when the staffers encourage guests to spend their days at the cafe, they have to offer more than just coffee. So they also layer together toasted sandwiches smeared with pesto mayo, crisp up flatbread pizzas, and pair fruits and cheeses together on fruit plates. As the day turns to night, they begin pouring glasses of Northwest wines and Belgian ales as live musicians croon classic folk music, blues tunes, and soothing lullabies.