Penny Ann’s Cafe dishes out plates of classic café fare whose “big, robust flavors” earned Penny’s a shout-out in City Weekly’s list of 2011’s Best New Restaurants. Chefs fold cheeses, veggies, and meats inside the fluffy walls of omelets and smother homemade buttermilk biscuits in sausage gravy and unconditional love. Lunch fare includes philly cheesesteaks, hand-pressed double cheeseburgers, and pasta noodles smothered in a choice of sauce. For dessert, multitudinous pies cradle fillings such as key lime, chocolate peanut butter, and banana cream inside crisp homemade crusts.
Live trees grow inside Café Solstice, stretching their branches toward the sunlight that streams in through the high ceiling's skylights. The trees aren't the only things that are leafy and fresh, though; so is the spot's menu of vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Kitchen wizards fashion organic produce into dishes such as corn tacos with miso, sunflower seeds, and cheddar cheese beneath greens and cilantro dressing, or veggie burgers made from walnuts, mushrooms, and pumpkins seeds topped with tomato chutney and provolone. Visitors can also snack on fresh-baked goods that range from Kashi krispie bars to double-chocolate butterscotch cookies, and sip organic loose-leaf tea or drip coffee made with locally roasted beans.
When the team members at Sampan aren't searing pieces of chicken and shrimp for pairing with snow peas, peppers, and spicy sauces, they're engaging with the community and making charitable donations to organizations such as the United Way. The menu samples the cuisines of countries across Asia with portions of chicken pad thai ($8.95) and vietnamese vermicelli with egg rolls ($7.95), with more classic Chinese plates including cashew chicken ($7.25), pork chow mein ($8.95), and a shrimp combo meal with lobster sauce and choice of rice and soup ($9.95).
Philly's Cheesesteaks and More outfits diners' digits with elaborate handheld creations including sandwiches, quesadillas, and personal pizzas. White, wheat, or parmesan bread cradles each harmonic blend of fixings in specialties sandwiches, such as the tandoori chicken with olives, onions, and provolone cheese ($5.95+) or the grilled eggplant zucchini sub ($5.95+). Sesame-glazed chicken or beef sandwiches unite green onions and tomatoes in a blanket of teriyaki sauce ($5.95+), and the philly steak attacks ravenous appetites with a swiss-cheese-laden smorgasbord of onions, peppers, mushrooms, and homestyle steak ($5.95). Unique and eclectic toppings frolic atop personal pizzas, such as the barbecue chicken pizza ($4.95), or cower behind the tortilla arms of the shrimp-pesto quesadilla ($4.95) bubbling over with mozzarella for a taste more surprising than digging up a time capsule filled with pictures of your future self burying a time capsule.
Thanks to its friendly baristas, specialty café drinks, and dedicated study room, Coffee Connection has garnered a number of awards in recent years, including City Weekly's distinction for Best Coffee Community in 2011. Patrons can sip beverages such as the Espresso Chip Freeze or the Coconut Rose bubble tea while curled up with a laptop or a textbook, or while connecting with other visitors through an in-house social-networking system.
Stalwart bricks contain the pizza oven's feisty flames at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, where chefs knead and stretch fresh pizza dough by hand. More than 25 specialty pies—such as the eponymous Boardwalk with pesto, spinach, grilled chicken, roasted tomatoes, and bacon—join customizable and Neapolitan-style pizzas on a vast menu of classic and gluten-free slices. Subs embrace meatballs or chicken parmesan, and pastas such as spaghetti, elbow macaroni, and wheat penne mingle with toppings including cheese, artichoke hearts, and steak slices, all ushered into rumbling stomachs by sips of soda, beer, or specialty cocktails. Each cozy booth glows from the light of a private inset television, which flickers with live sports between professional, college, and Montessori school teams.