Though rooted in Korean culinary traditions, the dishes at Red Holic might feel familiar even to those foreign to that gustatory language. Seven types of kimbap—a translation of the maki roll—enfold everything from spicy squid to Spam within a soft blanket of white rice and sweetened radish. Similar to blood sausage, soondae encases noodles and veggies within pig intestine, toppoki dishes pair rice cake with egg or dumplings, and Holic meals frame sautéed beef or Korean-style pork as the centerpiece. As if the flavor profiles and colorful ingredient weren’t enough to entice the senses, Red Holic stays true to its name, surrounding guests in a crimson wonderland speckled with white-topped tables and solid black chairs. To fill the wall space, reliefs feature domestic themes, including clotheslines laden with pins and a watering can hanging over flowers, constantly suspended by the cooks’ telekinesis.
Before teaming up in 1953, Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins were seasoned business owners with their own ice-cream shops. The words “unusual varieties” shone high above each shop, signaling their respective owners’ passion for anything but an ordinary dessert experience. When the two got together, it was natural that they’d adopt the theme of “31 flavors,” one for each day of the month. Since then, Baskin-Robbins has introduced more than 1,000 flavors and opened shops with more than 5,800 franchise owners worldwide. Even their little pink tasting spoon has become a staple as a way to make flavor browsing an event by allowing guests to try specialties without paying cash or chicken-based trade for the privilege.
Each of the 100 cupcake flavors served at Cupcakes Actually was conceived by resident pastry chef and self-described cupcake snob Sue. Sue's mastery of mini cakes actually began in her home kitchen, where she often whipped up treats for family and friends. Word-of-mouth made her cupcakes so popular, though, that she and her sister, Jen, decided to open a dedicated cupcake bakery so they could keep up with the orders without outsourcing work to elves. Today, they run not one, but two cupcakeries where the sweet repertoire includes four original basic flavors—chocolate fudge, flourless chocolate, red velvet, and vanilla bean—and a slew of specialty filled and seasonal varieties ranging from banana split to chocolate Guinness. But while cupcakes are the specialty, they aren't the only sweet treats being churned out: Sue and Jen also oversee a gourmet coffee bar, and make breakfast pastries and creamy gelato in-house.
CakeLove's baking staff, led by owner and Food Network's Sugar Rush host Warren Brown, specializes in cupcakes and cakes, baking batches from scratch daily with fresh, natural butter, sugar, eggs, and more. Each location's rotating selection of vanilla, chocolate, red-velvet, banana, carrot, and pumpkin cake bases is smothered with a variety of flavored buttercreams. Chocoholics can silence grumbling sweet tooths with creative concoctions like Cynthia's sin (chocolate cake dipped in chocolate ganache, topped with peanut butter buttercream, drizzled with chocolate and caramel, and sprinkled with candied peanuts), while those longing for a tropical getaway can abduct their tongue to a farflung locale with the lime on the coconut (shredded coconut and lime zest on a vanilla cupcake with lime buttercream). Cupcakes are $3.25 each, $19.50 for a half dozen, and $39 for a baker's dozen. Other sweet forms of gourmet baked goods ($2–$5), as well as the bakery's six-inch to 12-inch layer cakes ($25–$130), can sugary-up birthdays or candy-coat a van full of Shriner cars.