The staff at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt rejects the oft-touted claim that Americans don?t care about nutrition. The problem, they say, has more to do with selection than anything else; most low-calorie sweets don?t hold a candle to a fudge brownie or a warm slice of apple pie. They kept this in mind when crafting their frozen-yogurt recipes, working tireless to develop a healthy?and equally delicious?alternative to the dessert status quo by turning to decadent confections and just-picked fruits for inspiration.
Their experiments thus far have yielded more than 60 frozen yogurt flavors, which take turns pumping through the self-serve machines that line their colorful shop?s wall. Before taking a seat in a bright orange chair, guests fill their dishes with cool, low-fat swirls of chocolate cheesecake, strawberry banana, and a classic tart that bites as pleasantly as a teething kitten. Juicy pears, crunchy granola, and gooey chocolate sauce headline a smorgasbord of at least 30 toppings ready to scooped or poured into cups before their final weigh-in.
Open for both breakfast and lunch, Cuban Cafe serves up everything from hearty three-egg omelets to traditional platters piled with chicken, plantains, and yellow rice. But the shop's specialty is its Cuban sandwich?a time-honored staple stuffed with salami, ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles, and pressed until it's edges are perfectly grilled. For an added touch of authenticity, Cuban Cafe's Cuban sandwiches are served on pillowy Cuban bread baked fresh daily at La Segunda, unlike American-style sandwiches, which are served on two cinnamon rolls.
Since opening in 2003, The Tasting Room has morphed from a wine bar to a full-service restaurant with four locations—all while retaining its wine-bar charm and racking up numerous awards and accolades. Diners can select libations from a list that boasts more than 200 wines, pairing them with contemporary dishes whipped up by executive chef Jonathan LeBlanc. TTR offerings run the gamut from small plates of mini grilled sandwiches and classic bruschetta to entrees including creole-spiced quail and Jamaican jerk chicken breast, which diners can savor at windowside tables or on the plant-ensconced patio and garden area.
The eatery doesn't just sate hunger for eclectic classics and thirst for fermented grapes. It also hosts live music, meetings, and events such as 2011's Grapes vs. Grains, which pitted beer against wine in a liquid wrestling match. The owners have their hands in other culinary enterprises, too. There's the Houston Cellar Classic, for example, an annual celebration of food and wine. Also popular is MAX's Wine Dive, a destination for gourmet comfort food best defined by its slogan—"Fried chicken and champagne? ... Why the hell not?"
Himalayan pink salt, almond marzipan, Mexican chipotle, Moroccan mint tea?these are just a few of the exotic ingredients that the chocolatiers at Araya Artisan Chocolate cull from around the world so that they can infuse their Venezuelan chocolates with complex and surprising flavors. They strive to emulate French and Belgian styles, complementing the cocoa bean's naturally bitter taste with honey instead of sugar. They make each chocolate by hand in Katy, using only natural ingredients devoid of preservatives, artificial flavors, or glowing red serums pilfered from mad scientists. They even make vegan options. These experts decorate each of the chocolates with colorful designs, adorning peanut butter?berry with bright stripes and adding an enticing dollop of green atop the margarita option. Due to their insistence on hand crafting unique bites, they've earned attention from foodies at My Table and the River Oaks Examiner. They offer authentic French macarons, and have a wide variety of flavors that are imported from France, with gift boxes available as well. Just recently, Araya Artisan Chocolate opened its newest location at the Uptown Park Mall.
When patrons pop into Berri Swirl, they don't just come for the tasty frozen treats; they come for the chance to take control of their own dessert destinies. As they march confidently to the self-service dispensers stocked with 12 flavors of frozen yogurt, they're already calculating which bits of Butterfinger chunks, blackberries, and gummy bears they're going to pluck from the do-it-yourself toppings bar packed with more than 40 toppings. Swirls of delicious low-fat yogurt infused with tastes ranging from snickerdoodle-cookie-dough to triple chocolate descend into holders including cups, cones, wafer bowls, and 55-gallon drums made of marzipan. Along with this variety of toppings and flavors, the fro-yo gurus maintain their healthy standards by concocting their creamy creations from genuine dairy, milk, and fruit pur?es and handpicking their ingredients from a variety of sources. After patrons take one last look at their creamy creations, they can browse magazines or surf free WiFi while wolfing down their sweet achievements.
Supreme Kakes' Chef Veronica spent 19 years in the kitchen mastering the sugary, floury basics of baking cakes great and small, an effort that earned her customizable-cake business enough traction to risk moving from her home kitchen to a 6,000-square-foot bakery in 2009. There, the chef and her equally adventurous staff craft statuesque sweets from a rich palette of 50 flavors and fillings such as almond amaretto cream and chocolate raspberry truffle. Veronica's artful baked-to-order cakes become the centerpiece at weddings and birthdays, channeling the honorees' personality and passions through vivid likenesses of cartoon characters, architectural marvels, or favorite sports broadcasters. The bake masters supplement their repertoire of towering sweets with their diminutive cousins, buttercream- and fondant-based cupcakes, and can often accommodate dietary and allergy restrictions with wheat- and gluten-free goods or cakes shaped into enormous antihistamine capsules.