Ramen Charola at Capital Corn

We came looking for Mexican frozen treats, and found them in a cup of churros dipped in vanilla ice cream and in an astoundingly refreshing chamoyada. But the visual menu at this "place for bomb elotes and crazy snacks" lured me into ordering one last thing that made my companion suspect I'd been overcome with a severe case of the munchies.

The ramen charola ($10) is a cup of Maruchan noodles upgraded by the addition of shaved corn kernels, mayonnaise and lots of crumbly cheese. And that's just the first part. The cup is served on a tray (aka charola) of Hot Cheetos drenched in cheese sauce.

I don't remember the last time I had instant ramen, but I guarantee it was never this good. The creaminess of the mayo- and cheese-infused salty broth and the snap of the corn were exactly what this dehydrated soup-in-a-cup needed. Pairing it with semi-spicy corn puffs and cheese from a pump somehow made giggly magic. And with spoonfuls of that icy blended mango and puckery chamoyada ($9) to cleanse the palate, it was a very happy snack break. (Sharyn Jackson)

927 Payne Av., St. Paul, 651-348-2484, capitalcorn.net

Aloha Parfait at the High Hat

When I walked into the new High Hat on Selby Avenue, the entire front-of-house staff smiled at me from behind the bar. I waved before taking a seat. It's easy to understand the enthusiasm: This was opening day of the cafe and everyone was brimming with excitement to welcome guests. The area neighborhood page was already filled with chatter about the fresh breakfast and lunch business that has moved into the former Bon Vie Bistro.

High Hat has given the room a light remodeling, adding modern wallpaper behind the back bar and removing the pastry case for more tables. The walls now sport a peacock-teal shade of paint.

The menu is stacked with early morning temptations like a laminated dough cinnamon roll served in a small cast-iron skillet, breakfast hash with a creamy hollandaise, and a croissant breakfast sandwich. The sleeper hit was the Aloha Parfait ($16) — a dish we had to order when we saw it being paraded around for social media pictures.

Half of a papaya is filled with green yogurt and topped with fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey and a smattering of granola. It's a showstopper of a breakfast dish that was a satisfying breakfast and fun to eat. The strawberries and raspberries tasted of summer sunshine and the massive size of the juicy papaya made it a full meal. (Joy Summers)

485 Selby Av., St. Paul, no website or social media yet. Opens at 8 a.m. Tue.-Sun.

Bavarian Pretzel at Pizza Lucé

Everyone has their culinary weaknesses, the one food they can't pass up. Mine is soft pretzels. I'll order them anywhere — ballparks, arenas, bars, high school concession stands, restaurants, Kwik Trip (seriously) — knowing the best ones could be lurking in the most unlikely places.

Enter Pizza Lucé. We normally order pizza to go, so dining in gave us a chance to peruse the menu. Among the appetizers was the Bavarian pretzel ($9.99). Sold. The pretzel is baked until it has a sturdy outside, but a pillowy inside. It's topped with pretzel salt and everything bagel seasoning, which gives it an unexpected — and very pleasant — lift. A side of creamy beer cheese is included and, in typical we-don't-mess-around Lucé fashion, there's more cheese than you think you need. (Spicy whole grain mustard is available, too.) It was pretzel perfection.

We were also tempted by the array of non-pizza dishes, from hoagies and pasta to salads and a gochujang salmon bowl. But we stuck the tried-and-true namesake pie, The Lucé. If you're heading there soon, try the Elote Pizza. And a soft pretzel. (Nicole Hvidsten)

Eight metro-area locations and one in Duluth, pizzaluce.com

Cocktails at Travail's Sky Lounge

Travail is a special-occasion restaurant, a big-ticket experience you plan for in advance — with inventive cocktail pairings that up the ante. But on many evenings in my corner of the metro, I wished I could just pop in for one of those cocktails, especially when the breeze is warm and the doors are flung open in the Sky Lounge perched above Robbinsdale's main street.

Now we can. Travail has opened that top-floor lounge and patio for walk-ins, with an a la carte cocktail menu and a few small bites, too. Fanfare-filled tasting dinners are still proceeding at larger tables in the center of the room, but the perimeter is a no-reservations affair that'll give you a taste of Travail's signature mix of whimsy and skill.

A perfect example would be the boozy slushies ($12), which spin continuously like those at a 7-Eleven. I got the Jungle Bird Boogie, a mix of two rums, pineapple, lime and bittersweet strawberry Campari. (The Campari-soaked pineapple garnish was a nice touch.) For my companion, the Statute of Limitations had Tanqueray, grapefruit, Cynar and blood orange soda ($16).

The short food menu provides shareable snacks, such as tuna wonton tacos, hummus, oysters and sous vide beef tartare; dishes start at $14. (S.J.)

4134 Hubbard Av. N., Robbinsdale, 763-535-1131, travailkitchen.com. The Sky Lounge opens at 5 p.m. Wed.-Sun.

Cherry Dipped Cone at Conny's Creamy Cone

Sadness swept the Midwest when word spread that Dairy Queen had decided to drop its cherry-flavored dipped cones. For lovers of the fruity shell, it was a low blow for the majesty of cold summer treats. But those of us on the eastern side of the Twin Cities knew that happy times would continue as long as Conny's Creamy Cone remains open.

In what was either a marked rebellion against the so-called Queen or a defiant act of St. Paul superiority, we trekked to Conny's on a glorious summer afternoon. Unlike a certain other soft-serve stand, Conny's boasts a small lineup of ice cream flavors and a bunch of dip options, including the beloved cherry. We kicked up our sandals and indulged in a towering chocolate cone coated in cherry dip ($4.19) that crackled, but held fast against a melt threat and the high temperatures.

The flavor combination is reminiscent of sipping cherry Cokes on an endless summer night lit by fireflies. Which is to say, it was divine. (J.S.)

1197 N. Dale St., St. Paul, 651-488-4150, connyscreamycone.com