At more than 2,600 stores in more than 30 countries, Dunkin' Donuts serves coffee and iced beverages, fresh-baked donuts and desserts, and savory breakfast sandwiches. Since Bill Rosenberg opened the first location in Quincy, MA, in 1950, the donut shop has blossomed into a one-stop coffee and breakfast restaurant familiar to millions of morning rushers and afternoon sippers.
Behind the counter of each location, glazed french crullers twist and curve like Parisian city streets, and Bavarian Kreme donuts are filled with a sweet, golden custard. A cavalcade of meats is available for piling onto breakfast sandwiches, such as sausage, cherrywood-smoked bacon, or ham enveloped with fluffy eggs and melty cheese between a choice of crisp crusts. Health-conscious risers can fuel strenuous bouts of lifting cars in the drive-thru line with a Wake-Up wrap, which offers options such as egg whites with turkey sausage or veggies that add up to as few as 150 calories. Both sweet and savory selections pair well with a freshly brewed cup of coffee or a creamy, frozen Coolatta drink.
Though commuters can snag a quick pick-me-up within minutes, the wafting aromas of baking confections invite patrons to sit inside and embark on nostalgic reminiscences of syrup-coated playground slides. Beyond the bakery walls, the company aims for social responsibility with its support of community volunteer efforts and use of 100% fair-trade-certified espresso beans.
Eating dessert first may be a classic faux pas, but no one could blame you at Essence Bakery Café. Chef and owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos studied in France and has earned quite a reputation for her macarons. Unlike the chewy, coconut-based variations commonly found in American bakeries, Eugenia’s macarons are crafted with finely ground almonds and then shaped into tiny sandwiches with decadent fillings like chocolate ganache, salted caramel, or tart raspberry jam. Of course, it's also hard to pass up mini desserts such as white chocolate and raspberry cream petits fours or fresh, buttery croissants, which the chef makes from scratch, and uses as the base for savory breakfast sandwiches topped with fried eggs and melted Dubliner cheese. But while many of her best-loved pastries originated in France, Eugenia makes a point of sourcing her ingredients locally. As such, the cafe’s sandwiches and salads are simple by design—the only proper thing to do with such high-quality meats and produce is to show them off. After all, what's not to love about dishes like a grass-fed steak and mushroom sandwich, served opened faced with cabernet butter and bleu cheese? Or organic greens tossed with caramelized onions, pecans, and warm pears poached in red wine? And, to further demonstrate their commitment to the environment, Eugenia’s team has also taken pains to ensure that all of the menus are printed on recycled paper, all of the to-go cups are biodegradable, and all of the cafe’s furniture is constructed from marzipan.
To make Thai Basil’s signature dish, chefs sauté the restaurant’s namesake herb with spicy garlic, bamboo shoots, and a variety of vegetables. Thai basil is also found in a bounty of other plates—grilled eggplant brightens beneath its characteristic tang, spicy fried rice takes on a Thai flavor with the herb, and three curry dishes incorporate it in their stews of coconut milk and spices. Tofu, beef, chicken, and a selection of seafood play central roles in the restaurant's selection of rice, noodle, stir-fry, and grill entrees, each conveniently priced by protein rather than individual dish or the number of letters in its name. Dishes find complement in a wide selection of iced and hot teas and traditional desserts, such as sticky purple rice topped with Thai custard.
Cartel Coffee Lab has reaped its fair share of local and national applause, including that of BBC Travel and Food & Wine Magazine. With all those accolades, it's surprising just how modest Jason Silberschlag—the man behind the coffee—actually is. "We're all infants in understanding coffee," Silberschlag mused in a video on the shop's website. "It's one of the most complex beverages we consume." But, more than modest, Jason's comments reveal a very real respect and reverence for the drink—a respect that manifests itself in the staff's persistent experimentation, study, and instruction. The spot, after all, is not a coffeehouse; it's a coffee lab. Each of Cartel Coffee's four locations moderately play up the laboratory theme with lots of stainless steel, but offset any hint of coldness with brightly colored walls and original sculptures. Even more essential to the theme? The baristas are known to carefully explain brewing processes and technique to their customers as they create decadent espresso drinks, including the simple desert favorite: cold-brewed coffee. Light on the sugar, the brew allows sippers to really taste and admire the bold, earthy flavor of espresso beans culled from Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Guatemala. And though coffee is the most obvious drink to order at Cartel, you’ll want to pay attention to the rest of the menu, especially at the Tempe location. Since early 2013, this outpost has evolved from a straight coffeehouse into a full-blown microbrewery.
At My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, flames dance atop pieces of imported kefalograviera cheese as servers enliven the dining area with traditional Greek dances. The lively space also tickles the senses with scents of spanakopita and lamb carved straight off of the rotisserie. And in the back kitchen, dishes come together to form classic combinations such as spaghetti with meatballs and shrimp santorini.
At Mad G’s Grill & Tavern, beer is considered the universal mixer, which is why the chefs pour it into pint glasses, cocktails, and pizza. Traditional drinkers can grab a domestic, craft, or bottled brew from the menu of more than 40 beers—including Deschutes Obsidian stout and The Lost Abbey—and those looking for a modern twist on the classic beverage can turn to the menu’s 12 beer cocktails, which come blended with other beers, liquors, and spices.
Mad G’s chefs also pour the hoppy drink into many of the menu’s pub-grub meals, which are served nightly until 2 a.m. Pabst Blue Ribbon makes an appearance in beer-battered appetizers, and Lumberyard IPA simmers around braised mushrooms. Even the crusts of the house pizzas are mixed with Mad G’s house brew, creating a distinctive taste beneath toppings of roasted garlic, marinated artichokes, and house-pulled mozzarella. As patrons appreciate brews in their medium of choice—whether it's in a cocktail glass, a slow-cooked chili, or impressionistically dribbled onto a napkin—they can partake in weekly events including pool tournaments, trivia nights, and fish racing.