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.
Amocat brews up a bevy of coffees and teas to accompany a menu brimming with breakfast fare, grilled paninis, and salads. Steps regain their heel-clicking pep with espresso drinks ($2.25–$5.05) brewed from custom roasted Valhalla coffee and Mad Hat teas ($1.50 a cup) available in a flavorful roster that includes Creamsicle, Red Flower Earl Grey, and Egyptian chamomile. Rouse yawning mandibles from their dreams of showing up unprepared for pop quizzes with a scrumptious breakfast sandwich ($3.50) or wrap hands around a grilled Mambo panini ($4.99) showcasing chicken breast that stirs tongue buds into a twitterpated tizzy with the help of artichoke hearts, smoked gouda, and pesto mayonnaise. Amocat Cafe's décor boasts an ever-changing display of artwork from up-and-coming artists and the eatery's occasional live music feeds ravenous cochleae like q-tips fashioned from spun sugar.
The cupcake is a national figure of dining-room table ornamentation and post-work indulgence, and the skilled bakers at Hello, Cupcake crown their gobletcakes with real buttercreams made by hand. Cupcake satisfaction comes in a variety of sweet flavors from classic vanilla cakes with vanilla buttercream to chocolate batters, red velvet cakes, carrot, salted caramel, and the recently discovered pumpkin spice cupcake.
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.
The shelves of Legendary Doughnuts are lined each day with an ever-changing variety of hand-rolled, fresh fried treats topped with unconventional frostings and toppings. Shoppers can sink their teeth into the extra-large glazed Homer Simpson or try the George Washington, a chocolate-cake donut with chocolate-cherry ganache and almond slices. Old-fashioned varieties include the lemon-coconut donut with a lemon glaze and a crown of coconut, and specialties include the Fluff-A-Nutter stuffed with banana, peanut butter, and marshmallow. Legendary Doughnuts fills custom orders, too, whether customers would like an assortment of seasonal donuts, a tower of 25 donut balls, or a special plate of three donuts stacked and decorated to look like a hamburger.
Blending light tapas with imported desserts, an array of wine, and dancing, Pastíche's confines conjure up Old-World sentiments to create relaxing and romantic evenings. Pleasing vino virtuosos, Pastíche pours an assortment of 17 red wines, including Hugger Mugger pinot noir from Walla Walla Valley, Washington ($8/glass), and the 2007 Baer Winery ursa red blend ($15/glass), which was born out of alchemists' failure to blend merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, and petit verdot into a brick of pure gold. Glass tilters can also choose from 10 white wines by the glass, including the Tucker Cellars muscat canelli ($6) or Delaporte sancerre ($9).
Metronome's passionate baristas employ brewing mastery and fervency for quality coffee to concoct myriad menu items of precisely crafted caffeinated beverages and café fare. Six different brewing methods, including trifecta, pour over, cold brew, french press, and Chemex, steep their own takes on flavorful beans in contests to court patrons’ palates. Espresso shots ($1.25) condense liquid buzzes into miniaturized portions for consumption in steamy sippables such as cappuccino ($2.50), mocha ($3–$4.20), and traditional lattes ($2.50–$3.70). A collection of carefully selected Mad Hat teas—such as the soothing My Throat Hurts ($2.50)—and freshly squeezed orange juice ($3.25) warm the hearts of noncoffee consumers and solid fare, including loaded-pancake pockets ($3.50) and savory cheesecake ($6), befriend mouths to gain access to stomach pool parties.