After being widowed in 1982, Ruby Lorraine Feagan, better known as Tootie, began supporting her family one pie at a time, building her reputation as she won a succession of baking contests throughout Texas hill country. Investor Don Merrill came into the fold after reading a flattering article in Southern Living magazine and subsequently tasting one of Tootie's crusty, buttery, 6-pound apple pies. Today, Tootie and her daughter continue to ensure the quality of Tootie Pie Co. Gourmet Café's 13 signature pie flavors — which also include lemon velvet, coconut supreme, and the Rachael Ray–praised pumpkin pie — as they're carefully crafted and delivered to customers' homes nationwide. The bakery's burgeoning fame has extended to the Food Network's Kid in a Candy Store, which featured Tootie's pie-on-a-stick, slices of signature desserts skewered and dipped in chocolate.
Inside Tootie's café, the menu of gourmet sandwiches includes sweet chicken salad with red grapes and pecans and italian grilled chicken panini with roasted red pepper and pesto or chipotle mayo. Sips of house coffee and espresso-based Milan mochas clear palates between bites better than vigorously shaking them Etch A Sketch–style.
Affectionately dubbed "a little piece of France" by Christina Rowland of Real Frisco, Cafe Trottoir et Patisserie transports taste buds with Parisian-style bistro fare for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Dishes feature simple, elegant preparations, with numerous sauces and vinaigrettes drizzled across seared tuna steaks and roasted duck breasts. Mimicking money-booth contestants, pear and goat cheese step into a salad arena, where they compete to snatch the most pecans out of a slippery shower of lavender-honey vinaigrette. The steak frites' Black Angus terres major is pan-seared with red-wine pan jus and laid on a plate of pommes frites and baby greens.
Indoor meals unfurl under brass chandeliers bearing clusters of golden lamps. In fair weather, the sun-dappled outdoor terrace surrounds tables in tall trees bookended by stucco walls and a large outdoor fireplace.
Since childhood, My Delicias owner Marie Gonzalez has spent every Christmas in the kitchen. Under the guidance of her sweet-toothed grandmother, she rolled out cookie dough and frosted cakes. She worked slowly and meticulously, anticipating the looks on her family members’ faces upon seeing the season’s batch of treats. Although Ms. Gonzalez’s fans have since expanded beyond her immediate family, the inveterate pastry chef still works with the same diligence and care. She meets with every client for a consultation, discussing his or her interests, tastes, and understanding of the Higgs boson particle before creating an original design for them. Ms. Gonzalez has frosted triple-tiered wedding cakes adorned with peacock feathers and fondant orchids as well as whimsical children’s birthday cakes that resemble pirate ships and castles. She also bakes simpler treats, such as cupcakes, cake balls, and sugar cookies. To ensure her pastries taste as good as they look, Ms. Gonzalez makes everything from scratch, shunning cake mixes and artificial flavors.
It was a fateful night in January 1999 when the bellies of college sophomores Leon and Tiffany started to rumble. The two UT Austin students convened at Leon's apartment, where they whipped up a batch of chocolate-chip cookies in his oven. As they chewed on the warm, gooey fruits of their labor, the pair was struck by the idea to sell these freshly baked cookies to their fellow students. They began delivering treats to their peers during evening study breaks before expanding their customer base to include parents and Austin residents, all the while renting the back kitchen of a local restaurant to accommodate the growing demand.
Fifteen years later, the indulgent lure of Tiff's Treats has helped Leon and Tiffany open 13 locations throughout Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Within these bakeries, kitchen crews sculpt fresh dough into 10 types of cookies, supplementing the gooey morsels with decadent brownies and signature Tiffwiches—vanilla Blue Bell ice cream sandwiched between two warm cookies. Bakers hand-deliver batches every day, pulling them fresh from the oven instead of the overheated engine block of the delivery car.
Some quick Texas facts: the state bird is the mockingbird; the state motto is "friendship;" and the state cupcake is berry pecan. Lisa Britten didn't think that her baked goods had governing potential until 2010, when her signature flavor was sworn in as the official cupcake of Texas after winning a statewide contest. The famed cupcake didn't receive any bodyguards, however. On the contrary—anyone can eat it if they time their trip to Sugar Queen Cupcakes just right.
Berry pecan is one of several rotating favorites on the shop's menu. Others include snickerdoodle, coconut cream, and even pancakes and bacon. Thankfully, though, mainstays such as cream cheese lime and chocolate chocolate chip are available every day. Lisa can also stack her cupcakes in tiers for special events. Her creative themes might delight the eye with cheery sunflowers or add a rustic charm to pumpkin-spice cupcakes by arranging them atop a slice of tree trunk.