On every table in Manna Cafe is a card that boasts “You can have it all at Manna Cafe.” It’s a big claim, but trust us, Manna Cafe can back it up. The spot offers breakfast, lunch, brunch, drinks (“hot, cold, boozy, delish”), dessert (“from scratch”), bread (“baked fresh daily”) and dinner. (You can even buy one of the many small, colorful wooden cats on display throughout the restaurant, if that’s your thiIDX Pagesng.)
Manna Cafe is a bright, cheery space with a casual elegance. It’s larger and more open than you expect when you first get to the Lakewood Plaza strip mall on Sherman Avenue (one block north of Commercial Street) in Maple Bluff. Manna Cafe is tucked into the corner of the strip mall, right next to Vic Pierce Liquor.
Manna started as (and continues to be) a small-batch, from-scratch (hey, that rhymes!) bakery. Every day there is a selection of fresh bread, cookies, cakes, and other delicious baked goods.
The meal menus are eclectic, with lots of familiar comfort foods and some more unique options that may go a little outside your comfort zone. According to the Manna Cafe website, the menus are “centered around great breads, and the foods that go well on them!” (The food deserves that exclamation point, by the way.)
The focus on breads is fairly easy to picture for breakfast (toast on the side of lots of egg dishes, pancakes, French bread) and lunch (sandwiches and wraps). For dinner, the bread-focus make the options even more interesting: there is a Jerusalem slider served with Naan bread, Israeli couscous with challah, and blackberry baby back ribs with cornbread, just to name a few. (Many of the menu and bakery items are Jewish, due to owner Mike Pratzel’s background—his family owned Pratzel’s Bakery, a famous Jewish bakery in St. Louis.)
Manna only started serving dinner in March of this year, after eight years as a breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot. Dinner is served Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., which leads us to wonder if Vic Pierce has experienced a surge in customers coming in for an after-dinner bottle of booze at 9:01 p.m. on those days.
Manna Cafe is a family-owned business. Locals Barb and Mike Pratzel used to operate the Collins House Bed and Breakfast, but closed that business in 2005 so they could open Manna Cafe. We’re glad they made the switch, since having a cafe that’s open for three meals a day (or four, if you count brunch as its own meal) means a lot more chances to enjoy the atmosphere and the delicious food.
On a warm, sunny day, sit outside on the patio or find a table in the sunny front room. On a drearier day, you might find the small back room nice and cozy, especially if the fireplace is burning.
Besides the bread, Manna Cafe also stresses its community-oriented approach through community involvement and outreach. If you can’t make it to Manna Cafe as often as a regular, then you can at least subscribe to their Facebook page for updates on daily menu specials and special events.