Holiday shopping is exhausting. And from the looks of the shopping mall crowds on some recent afternoons, we’re not even close to done.
Even when you run out to get one thing, it’s easy to get sucked into the land of clearance racks. You don’t always have time for a meal, but it’s important to keep your energy up. You don’t want to be that person in line who loses her cool and lets her stomach do the talking.
Snacks are essential to shopping. That’s why the line winds around Auntie Anne’s in almost any mall. You’ve got to feed yourself. And be nice to cashiers and salespeople.
Here are some of the best small bites for your shopping experience:
Country Club Plaza
Panache Chocolatier has long been my go-to Plaza snack stop for its smoothies and frozen mocha, but I did a double take when I walked in last week. Owner Julie House recently remodeled the place. It looks a lot like a cafe now, complete with a little bar and banquette.
The menu has expanded to include even more sweet confections (try the white chocolate cheesecake or the cracked-pepper pistachio bar, $5 each), and next year she’ll add even more. She plans to have a liquor license and serve drinks, too. Wine and chocolate? Win.
Why the change? Julie says our culture is very much on the move; we like things quick and convenient. She’s adding a little luxe to the mix with the chocolate cafe to upgrade the experience.
“We want people to be able to come in, have a seat and get a fresh-made drink or hand-crafted chocolates, relax and recharge,” she says. “People don’t have time for a 45-minute meal when they are in the middle of shopping, but they want a small snack.”
And if you want to snack while you shop, Panache has you covered. I found myself drinking a double dark cocoa ($3) and eyeballing a few small gifts, like the almond sea-salt truffles ($2) and chocolate-covered cornflakes ($12). Panache, 418 Nichols Road, is next to the Boulevard Dry Goods pop-up shop. countryclubplaza.com
Oak Park Mall
When it comes to tasty treats, Oak Park Mall is king. Cookies, nuts, teas, gelato and more await you. But my new favorite pick-me-up while on the shopping run is Boba’s Litchi slushie with popping boba ($4.25).
I’m typically not a fan of bubble tea. Tapioca balls? No thank you. But the teens in line ahead of me persuaded me to try this slushie. Imagine Pop Rocks inside tapioca balls. Yeah, I was nervous. But let me tell you, litchi tastes like grapes and rosewater, and hidden within a slushie, popping boba isn’t bad. As it turns out teens are wise. Sometimes.
Boba is in a kiosk near Abercrombie upstairs. thenewoakparkmall.com (There’s a Boba at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, too.)
There was a time when you could count on your local mall to have a Cinnabon and an Orange Julius, but these days those gems are hard to come by. But you can find the latter at Independence Center, where I happily drank a medium Julius ($3.90) and remembered my ’90s adolescence stuffed into that orangey goodness.
And yes, I know the frosty citrus drink might seem out of season, but when you’re lugging around your big coat and a few bags indoors, it gets hot in there. Besides, Vitamin C.
Orange Julius is partnered with Dairy Queen in the food court downstairs. simon.com/mall/independence-center
When you’re shopping outdoors in December, wrapping your hands around a cup full of pretzel bites is a warm welcome. It’s also the perfect snack to ward off those hangry (you know, so hungry you’re angry) feelings.
At Pretzelmaker you can get a cup of pretzel bites, melted cheese or marinara, and a drink for $5.80. It’s enough to share with another person if you aren’t starving. ’Tis the season and all.
Pretzelmaker, 7261 N.W. 86th Place, is across from Bath & Body Works. zonarosa.com
The Legends Outlets
There are a lot of restaurants at The Legends, but when you want a quick snack, the options are slim. There’s frozen yogurt, but it’s cold. The candy apples at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are tempting. But if you’re going to take on the outdoor outlet circuit, coffee helps. Even better? Festive fuel. Pumpkin Spice is good. Peppermint Mocha is fun. Take the season even further, and get your Gingerbread man on.
At Scooter’s Coffee House, you can get a Gingerbread Latte ($3.77) and a gingerbread cookie ($1.91) the size of your face. It’s not overload, I promise. It’s the perfect recipe for a merry mood.
Scooter’s Coffee House, 1843 Village West Parkway, is near the movie theater and Sunglass Hut. legendsshopping.com