Red Mango's frozen yogurt has been garnering national attention for more than five years, unlike that musician strumming away next to the foosball table in his basement. The shop earned a place atop Zagat's 2011 lists for Best Smoothie and Frozen Yogurt Chain and Best Healthy Options Among Quick Refreshment Chains. Red Mango showcases its award-winning reputation by dishing up all-natural and gluten-free yogurts—all of which are either low-fat or nonfat—that promote healthy digestive and immune systems with natural probiotics. Friendly staff members are always on hand to whip Ghirardelli dark chocolate, POM pomegranate juice, and seasonal pumpkin spice frozen yogurts into Stevia-sweetened smoothies or parfaits layered with organic granola and fruit. The toppings bar brims with crunchy cereal, cheesecake bits, and nuts, allowing creative customization.
Michael Sobon appreciates nostalgia for good ol’ Americana—and a tasty old-fashioned burger. That’s why he created Pudsters, a family-friendly restaurant named in honor of his beloved English bulldog, Puddy. Old-fashioned burgers (made of 100% fresh, never-frozen angus beef) and frankfurters—known as Pudsters Puppies—rule the menu. Paired with shoestring fries, crispy onion rings, and hand-spun milkshakes, these burgers and frankfurter meals recall the 1950s and preview the 2050s, when all food will taste like a milkshake. The team takes into account considerations of 2013 citizens, too, accommodating vegetarians with portobello mushroom burger—a fresh one that illustrates the eatery's aversion to processed ingredients—or grilled cheese. Technically, the grilled cheese is part of the kid’s menu, but Pudster’s friendly staff won’t raise an eyebrow.
At Pink Frosting Bakery, the bakers craft their vegan and gluten-free desserts from scratch. Each cupcake, two-layer cake, and infinitely layered tesseract brims with mostly organic ingredients that create more healthful but still rich-tasting treats. As finishing touches, bakers dust cinnamon sugar over a cream-cheese-topped pumpkin cake, mix crushed Oreos into cream-cheese frosting before slathering it onto chocolate cake, and fill vanilla cake with strawberry preserves finished with a strawberry frosting. Furthermore, Pink Frosting's confections are devoid of egg and dairy, and mostly free of soy, allowing customers to cater to guests with allergies when planning parties.
No two bagels need ever be alike at Bagelwich Bagel Bakery. The bakery offers 20 varieties of bagels baked fresh every day, but choosing the bagel is only the beginning. Upon each poppy seed, sesame seed, or onion bagel, the staff can slather butter or cream cheese in flavors such as strawberry or bacon and herb. Or, they can use the bagel as the basis for a sandwich?or bagelwich?, layering on premium meats including Genoa salami, pastrami, and roast beef. Of course, they can also fold fresh omelettes onto a bagel, or forgo the ring-shaped treats altogether and build submarine sandwiches, wraps, or burgers instead.
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.
Twist Frozen Yogurt treats guests to a self-serve spread of up to 24 different frozen desserts, with yogurts and sorbets in a wide variety of tastes and styles. Guests can cool off their palates by packing their cups with health-conscious dollops of nonfat or low-fat yogurt or non-dairy sorbet—available flavors include coffee, sea salt, caramel corn, cake batter, and coconut. They can then crown their creations with 90-plus toppings, including chocolate syrup or fresh fruit. Twist Frozen Yogurt proudly displays all nutritional info on the menu, with options for no-sugar-added and nonfat desserts as low as 80 calories—fewer calories than are burned while yawning through a bad novel or a well-written PC manual.