Over the Rainbow: The Country’s Most-Colorful Drinks and Dishes
Taste many different rainbows with these sweet and savory multi-colored palate pleasers.
Photo By: William Andrew
Photo By: Photographer: Jason F. Rossi
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Edible Rainbows and Unicorns
It’s not just your childhood food fantasy: Images of multicolored foods really are popping up everywhere. And it seems that chefs and bartenders across the country are just as obsessed with the rainbow and unicorn trend as the rest of us, cranking out dishes and drinks that would make Dorothy proud. From sweet to savory, here’s how spots across the country are taking the challenge to "eat a rainbow" in all new directions.
Birthday Cake Latte at Home Cafe, San Francisco
The birthday cake latte at this Outer Richmond cafe doesn’t just look celebratory, it’s meant to taste like its namesake dessert, too. Baristas combine Four Barrel Coffee brew with condensed milk, vanilla and hazelnut, then top it with foamed milk and food-safe dyes. Each cup becomes a canvas for ever-changing latte art.
The Last Unicorn at Scout PNW, Seattle
This stunning dessert from Thompson Hotel pastry chef Kate Sigel may be the most-elegant take on the unicorn trend yet. A sphere of coconut mousse, passion fruit gelatin and raspberry forms the mythical creature’s head, with multicolored icing trails down the side as its mane. The finishing touch is a "horn" that’s actually a white chocolate baton wrapped in edible gold.
Shave Ice at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, Maui
With 48 flavors and seven toppings, this Maui shave ice shop offers a dizzying array of icy combinations. But no matter which you select, the resulting cone of ice — arguably Hawaii’s lightest and fluffiest — will be a dazzling display of colors once it’s been doused in the all-natural syrups.
Rainbow Cake at Sugaree's Bakery, New Albany, Mississippi
Armed with the tagline "Reflections of a Southern Childhood," Sugaree Bakery’s Mary Jennifer Russell has been whipping up classic layered cakes since 1997. This multicolored confection joined the menu in 2001, when Russell was doing research for the opening of her current storefront. Inspired by a Jell-O ad, the baker came up with this stacked rainbow cake, flavoring the batter with Kool-Aid powder to get both vibrant hues and unique flavors (strawberry, orange, lemon, lime, grape). The nine-inch round is finished with a cream cheese icing and, of course, sprinkles.
Unicorn Melt at Chomp Eatery & Juice Station, Santa Monica
Grilled cheese gets a fantastical makeover at Santa Monica’s Chomp, where natural dyes turn the childhood favorite into a social media star. The colored cheese is composed of fontina, provolone, asiago and parmesan carefully laid out in rows that blend into a gooey neon rainbow as it’s warmed on a flattop grill. Wash it all down with one of Chomp Eatery’s equally bright juices.
Birthday Cake Push Pops at by Chloe, New York City
The fast-casual vegan chain, which has expanded from its New York City original location to outposts in Boston, Los Angeles and Providence, proves that there is an appetite for plant-based food. Along with the savory stuff, meat-eaters and vegans alike flock to the shop for dairy-free treats like these throwback push-pops featuring alternating layers of funfetti birthday cake and ice cream.
Pho Shaved Ice at Agalico Restaurant, Honolulu
Situated in Waikiki, Agalico draws from a diverse mix of Southeast Asian and native Hawaiian influences. It pays homage to the Aloha State’s iconic shave ice in a playful take on pho that’s crowned with a technicolored frozen beef broth. The icy orb sits atop rice noodles, bean sprouts, red onions and cilantro, dissolving into a refreshing chilled soup.
Unicorn Hot Chocolate at XO Marshmallow, Chicago
In near-magical fashion, the peppermint hot cocoa at XO Marshmallow turns a pastel pink with help from some crushed candy canes. House-made marshmallow fluff, sprinkles and a unicorn horn lollipop finish off the steamy cup.
Sprinkle Mix Doughie at MdoughW, Miami
Margo Wolfe was simply experimenting at home when she decided to stuff cookie dough with other sweets (think brownies and caramel candies). Dubbed "doughies," the gooey cups became an Instagram sensation, leading to her full-time baking operation, MdoughW. Even with many rotating flavors available, this sparkly variety — covered in sanding sugar, sprinkles, nonpareils, gold stars and edible glitter — is still a fan favorite.
Rainbow Cake Jar at Jar Bar, Northbrook, Illinois
Not everything here is served in jars, but plenty of items are, including salads to oatmeal to cakes. The plastic containers — filled with buttercream and vanilla sheet cake tinted with gluten-free, nut-free dyes — are not only perfectly portioned for one, but easy to take on the go.
Paradise Cheesecake at King’s Hawaiian, Torrance, California
Before King’s Hawaiian became a supermarket staple, it was actually a bakery and restaurant in — you guessed it — Hawaii. After moving its roll-making operation to Southern California, the team re-established the storefront, where whole rounds and slices of its signature Paradise Cake fill the shelves. The tricolor chiffon was such a hit, a cheesecake version was later produced, with a creamy tartness that balances out the trio of tropical fruits (guava, passionfruit and lime).
Rainbow Marshmallows at Dough, Tampa
Lattes, cheesecake, doughnuts... if it belongs on a dessert menu, this fanciful bakeshop has probably given it the ROYGBIV treatment. So it’s no surprise that even fluffy house-made marshmallows get glammed up with multiple hues of sanding sugar, which probably make for very mesmerizing s’mores.
Chiffon Roll Cake at Sunmerry Bakery, Irvine, California
Roll cakes are a staple at most Chinese bakeries, but none are as vibrant as the one found at stateside locations of Taiwan’s Sunmerry Bakery. Created as a sweet counterpoint to the chain’s salted cheese drinks, the rainbow roll gets its fluffy texture from a classic chiffon-cake base and a slight tang from a creamy mascarpone filling.
Mozzarella Sticks at Tony Boloney's Atlantic City and Hoboken
The mozzarella sticks at Tony Boloney’s are a labor of love. The New Jersey pizza joint makes everything from scratch, from the cheese to the bread to the natural food coloring. Chefs use beets, turmeric and other dehydrated fruits and seeds to stain the mozz, then roll each baton in a house blend of breadcrumbs, Pennsylvania Dutch pretzel bits and panko. They’re fried to a crisp golden-brown, then delivered to your table for the perfect cheese pull.
Cereal Doughnut at PVDonuts, Providence
When Lori Kettelle couldn’t find gourmet doughnuts in her home state of Rhode Island, she took matters into her own hands, opening PVDonuts in Providence. All of her fried treats start with a brioche dough as the base, but the glazes and fillings constantly change. In a nod to her favorite ’90s foods, Kettelle conjured a doughnut that’s flavored with Fruity Pebbles. The cereal sits overnight in milk that becomes a finishing glaze, and more crunchy pieces are strewn on top.
Rainbow Latte at The Good Sort, New York City
Manhattan’s dreamiest drink may also be its healthiest. Despite its name, this tricolor latte contains no coffee or even dairy — the whole shop is vegan. Each stripe is actually a combination of vegan milk (almond, oat, coconut) and superfood (beetroot, turmeric, blue algae). The wholesome drink is sweetened with coconut sugar and agave, but packs a slight kick from black pepper and cayenne.
Fruity Pebbles Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches at MILK, Los Angeles
How do you take ice cream sandwiches to the next level? By swapping plain chocolate chip cookies with French macarons. Though they're available in a multitude of colors, the most eye-catching may be the Fruity Pebbles, a pink-on-pink confection partially dipped in white chocolate and the rainbow cereal.
Unicorn Blondie Bars at Buttercream Bakeshop, Washington, D.C.
With pink neon signs, turquoise shelves and a wall of decorative yellow accents, Buttercream Bakeshop embraces bold colors. That’s also the case when it comes to the baked goods — specifically, Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac’s unicorn bars. Not only are rainbow sprinkles mixed into the blondie batter, but once they come out of the oven, the individual squares are finished with a dusting of technicolored glitter. Throughout the year, glittery rainbow cookies make appearances, too.
Rainbow Cake at Bouchon Bakery, Napa
This Thomas Keller bakery is renowned for its commitment to classic takes on flaky, buttery pastries, but when gay marriage was legalized in 2015, Pastry Chef Nicholas Bonamico decided to riff on the Italian-American rainbow cookie, turning it into a six-layer treat alternating between almond cake and apricot and raspberry jams. Dense and rich, it’s an elegant reimagining from one of the country’s finest bakeries.
San Diego: Unicorn Concha at Puesto
It’s no myth: Unicorn cream puffs do exist and they reside at La Jolla’s taco joint Puesto. Inspired by conchas — cookie-topped buns ubiquitous in Mexico — Pastry Chef Jessica Scott conjured up a colorful craquelin-covered cream puff that she splits in two to form a dessert sandwich. A scoop of horchata-and-cereal milk ice cream goes in between, along with a coating of Fruity Pebbles.
Soup Dumplings at Imperial La Mian, Chicago
The technique behind eating the rainbow version of soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, is no different than the plain kind: Nip a tiny hole in the casing, slurp the soup, devour the dumpling, repeat. They’re made the same way, too. Chefs roll out the wrapper by hand (tinged with natural vegetable coloring and food-safe dyes), fill them with pork stock, pleat the dumplings, then steam each basket to broth-filled perfection.
Rainbow Sangria at I|O Godfrey, Chicago
Chefs oversee both the kitchen and the bar at this sleek rooftop lounge inside River North’s Godfrey Hotel, working up whimsical drinks to match fancy small bites like truffle fries and pork belly skewers. Executive Chef Nathaniel Cayer is the mastermind behind the rainbow sangria, which starts with a base of colorful ice cubes infused with fruit juices and floral extracts. When it comes time to serve, they’re topped with a splash of vodka and moscato. The drink evolves as the night wears on and the ice cubes slowly melt and mingle.
Crepe Cake at Dek Sen, New York City
Mille-crepe cakes come in various hues depending on their flavor (vibrant green matcha or chocolate, for example), but the one at this Queens Thai restaurant Dek Sen features all six colors of the rainbow at once. Two pans are used to fire up 20 delicate tinted pancakes, which are then assembled into a cake with layers of homemade whipped cream. Each slice is plated with more cream and a strawberry sauce.
Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispy Treat at The Brasserie and Neighborhood Café at Parish, Atlanta
In honor of Atlanta Pride, Pastry Chef Brenna Kinkead gave the cereal treat a vivid grown-up twist. Her version starts with a nutty brown-butter base, followed by marshmallows, white chocolate and a whole lot of Fruity Pebbles. Not only will the bite satisfy your sweet tooth, a part of proceeds are donated to a local non-profit that helps homeless LGBTQ+ youth.
Bam Bam Milkshake at The Toasted Mallow, Phoenix
The name of the milkshake at this specialty marshmallow shop should instantly should give away the featured ingredient: Fruity Pebbles. The cereal shows up in two components: the milkshake, where it’s blended with vanilla, strawberry puree, a fresh banana, milk and ice, and the pillowy marshmallow topper.
Rainbow Connection at Shake Shack, West Hollywood
Even this classic fast-casual burger chain has jumped on the rainbow bandwagon. Available only at its West Hollywood outpost, the Rainbow Connection concrete blends sprinkles-studded vanilla custard with specialties from two local hotspots: Sqirl’s seascape strawberry and rose geranium jams, plus Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee’s glazed huckleberry doughnuts.
Taste the Rainbow at Bitter & Twisted, Phoenix
Bitter & Twisted is housed — ironically — in the same building that once served as Arizona’s Prohibition headquarters. Only now, instead of preventing the flow of alcohol, the space pours sophisticated cocktails that fill a literal book. One such concoction is this tropical mix of house-infused kaffir lime gin and sloe gin with fresh lime, pineapple and strawberry juices. It’s shaken 'til foamy, then — true to its name — topped with colorful powder that forms an arc.
Blackberry Walnut French Toast at Cork & Pig Tavern, Fort Worth
Cork & Pig Tavern is all about elevated comfort food. On weekends, Chef Felipe Armenta puts a next-level touch on brunch staples like eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros and French toast. In a French toast take that could be considered dessert, Armenta uses Fruity Pebbles to form a crisp crust around house-baked bread. Once golden-brown, the custardy slices are finished with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream and maple syrup.
Rainbow Sliders at Sugar Factory American Brasserie, Las Vegas
Everything at this celeb-approved hotspot is as fun to look at as it is to eat, including goblets of candy-studded cocktails and the eye-catching rainbow sliders. Each tiny burger comes in a different-colored brioche bun, but all hold fillings of a mini angus beef patty, pickles, American cheese, onion rings and Sugar Factory's special sauce.