Aromas of roasted garlic and basil waft from the warm ovens at Cafe Centro as chefs prepare a menu of Northern Italian seafood specialties. Beneath the dining area's rustic timber ceiling, servers deliver plates of fettuccine crowned with lobster and brandy cream sauce or fillets of grilled salmon, yellowtail snapper, and branzino. Other dishes include crusty calzones with soft, melting interiors and housemade desserts such as tiramisu. Wrought-iron chandeliers cast a warm glow over racks of bottles filled with fine wines and rolled parchment notes from the pirate who lives in the cellar.
The cooks at DD's Chicken and Seafood consistently work to achieve two main objectives: serving up delectable fried meals and abiding by halal standards. Successfully meeting these lofty goals, they prep poultry in an exhaustive list of variants, from chicken legs, wings, and sandwiches to nuggets and fried gizzards, all of which become combo meals when paired with fries and a drink. They also whip up a selection of seafood, including fillets of catfish and tilapia alongside fried shrimp and conch fritters. For an alternative to fries, they prepare sides such as fried okra and samosas. The venue only allows for take-out, as it has no seating, much like airplanes before the chair lobbyists had their way.
True to its name, The Vegan Cafe prepares a deliciously nutritious menu of vegan treats. Menu items can include gently oven-baked tomatoes stuffed with raw spinach, quinoa, and seeds, a zesty veggie "meatball" bowl topped in marinara sauce, and a raw nori roll, full of veggies and topped with a special sauce.
The hookah's natural habitat is not a nightclub with crashing music and empty drinks slamming against tables. The hookah experience, according to Kimm Smith of Hookah House, should be unrushed and mellow. "It's very meditative," she says, "and should be shared with people you care about." This was the atmosphere in which co-owner Zo spent his childhood in Algeria, where people would spend long hours gathering with friends and families in hookah lounges. He and his Bostonian wife, Michelle, wanted to bring that aspect of Algerian culture to the United States, both to spread a feeling of community and as an homage to the marriage of their distinct backgrounds.
As the fruit-tinged smoke of shisha rises from between murmuring visitors, it passes rich fabrics, which drape the exposed-brick walls, and bright lanterns dangling from a marigold ceiling. Stories seem to overflow from the furniture and textiles, gathered during the couple’s travels in Algeria or preserved from Zo's former life as a sommelier in Paris. This is where patrons linger, resting shoeless feet on bright cushions and pillows as they converse or check email on the free wireless internet. Atop inlaid tables, servers place Turkish coffee, house blends of Moroccan tea, and small plates of Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
On some weekend evenings, live jazz stirs guests to twist among tendrils of smoke before a DJ steps up to spin a range of music, from Earth, Wind & Fire to Jimi Hendrix. Belly dancers, with bells and scarves for all to borrow, demonstrate to patrons how to pass lie-detector tests with just their hips. A psychic-in-residence reads coffee grounds most nights, translating the earthy onyx shapes into predictions about the drinker's future.
"Tips are bigger on the inside," reads the sign on Common Grounds Coffee Bar's tip jar, a wink at the sci-fi stalwart Doctor Who and a glimpse into the shop's sense of humor and friendly atmosphere. The coffeeshop pours brews from Rabbit Coffee, blends up fruit smoothies, and prepares bagels and other food.
Oceana Coffee’s artisan roasters spare no effort in creating their batches of high-quality coffees. Only carefully selected beans make it through their grading trials, with each judged by its quality, health, and ability to beat a jumping bean in a fight. Coffee orders are roasted per request—customers never receive a leftover bag, or beans that have been sitting in a vat—to ensure each brew has bold flavor and tantalizing aromas. This same attention to quality goes into every pot of coffee brewed at Roasting House & Café, as well as the drinks simmered up at Palm Beach Gardens Cafe at the Borland Center.