Kolache Rolf's stuffs puffy pastries with warm, gooey fruit and spiced meats to create treats that stay true to the Czech tradition. One glance at the menu sets tummies a-rumbling with the promise of 23 varieties of kolaches, including breakfasty infusions of bacon and cheese ($1.19) and slovacek sausage and cheese ($1.89) alongside more traditional blends of cream cheese, apricot, and poppy seed ($0.99). Diners delight over chicken-salad-stuffed sandwiches ($4.50), whose hearty innards can be washed down by slurps of broccoli-cheese soup or squirts from shampoo bottles filled with tortilla soup (both $2.99).
Dark wood and flaxen-hued walls surround the scents and savors of wood-fired pizzas, creative pastas, and locally sourced steaks at Café Eccell. Disks of dough hand-forged daily, such as the rustic italian-sausage pizza ($15) or margherita pizza ($13), emerge from the wood-fired oven with a smoky flavor and encyclopedic knowledge of campfire songs. Opportunities for fork-finagling can be found in the seafood linguine, which suffuses shrimp and salmon with tomato-garlic butter on a bed of saffron linguine ($19), and in the 12-ounce USDA Prime rib eye, fetched from local purveyor Ruffino Meats and draped in herb butter ($25). Paying homage to the traditional garb worn on their annual apricot hunts, strawberries disguise themselves in an apricot glaze and hide out in an almond-lace cookie shell lined with Belgian chocolate in Café Eccell’s strawberry tart ($7).
Following a whim can sometimes change someone’s life, as the proprietor of Sugar Mommas knows well. A cake decorating class at a local craft store started her on a trajectory that led her to open her own bakery. She draws together wholesome ingredients such as sweet creamery butter and pure cane sugar to craft cupcakes with soft coronas of frosting. She also creates full-sized customized cakes and cake pops on sticks, which are convenient for eating as a snack or holding out of reach of a children’s basketball team. While baking her confections, she works to protect the environment by using green products, recycling, and minimizing her use of water whenever possible.
The staff at Fruulala Frozen Yogurt Cafe encourages what they call “swirly artistry” by giving customers free reign to build their own desserts. With a cup in hand, visitors can pump any combination of on-tap flavors, which rotate through a list that includes non-fat dark chocolate, birthday cake, sea-salt pretzel, pistachio, and cookies and cream. More than 50 cold and dry toppings––including lychee, fudge brownies, Kit Kat, raisins, and granola––sprinkle over the frosty peaks to finish the design process, and a staff member weighs the final product to determine its price. Some flavors are low-fat, non-fat, gluten-free, or dairy-free, and all of Fruulala’s yogurts are chockfull of live and active probiotic cultures, which boost immune-system function and digestive health, and all yogurts are also guaranteed free of artificial growth hormones and steak.
Launching a dessert bakery at age 26 might be intimidating for some, but not for Vanessa O'Donnell. "Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, it was the natural next step," she recalls. "I knew that if I followed my passion, I would have a good shot at success.” Passion is an understatement. She engineered her first memorable dessert at just 9 years old––a dewberry cobbler made with fruit picked fresh from the fence. Vanessa has come along way from precocious experiments; she's since attended the Art Institute of Houston’s baking and pastry program, where she learned such techniques as fondant construction, icing mixing, and how to teach an oven to roll over and play fetch. All of these skills and her innate talents have been whipped and sculpted into the sumptuous sweets bastion that is Ooh La La Dessert Boutique. Natural light pours through enormous windows onto glass cases full of truffles, pastries, crumbly cookies, and some of the best cupcakes in Houston, according to the Houston Press. Guests may also request a steaming espresso drink to go or solicit a baker to craft a specialty cake for an upcoming birthday or jailbreak.
Every morning, the bakers at Simply Splendid Donuts & Kolaches start their day stirring, pouring, and baking breakfast pastries. Their signature pastry is the donut, which they glaze and frost into a range of traditional styles. They then add dashes of color and flavor by decorating treats with shredded coconut, bright candy sprinkles, and dustings of powdered sugar. But, unlike Willy Wonka's secret stash of snacks, the menu isn't full of sweets alone. For example, the kolachy's flaky, buttery exteriors hide savory fillings, such as the customer-favorite: sausage, jalape?o, and cheese. The bakers supplement these two staples with a range of other breakfast items, which range from croissants and biscuits to breakfast tacos.