Cloud Cafe's team of baristas creates hot, caffeinated drinks that double as sippable works of art. They finish off lattes with elaborate designs scrawled into foam, which carefully conceals the rich flavors of fair-trade beans sourced from the likes of Montana and Nicaragua that rest below. They also brew cups of loose-leaf herbal teas and dot exotic bubble tea varieties such as avocado with tapioca pearls. These aromatic cups complement a menu of pastries and sweets, which includes strawberries dipped in chocolate. This artistic bent makes sense, since the espresso and teahouse also doubles as an art gallery with pop art hanging from the walls and menus printed on the back of priceless masterpieces.
Though the chefs at Babaloo International Cafe & Bar were inspired by the sharable small plates of Spain, they didn't limit themselves to just Spanish dishes. Instead, they craft appetizers and down-sized entrees of cuisines from around the world. This creates a varied menu, with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus appearing beside miniature beef wellingtons and Cuban crab cakes made with plantains. These dishes pair well with wines selected from the vineyards of Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and Australia, to create meals that are both light and filling, much like four courses of flavored heliums. When evening turns to night, the restaurant becomes a hotspot for dancing, with theme parties, hip-hop nights, and salsa dancing.
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.
With its made-to-order homestyle breakfasts and lunches, Freddy's Cafe has been converting first-time diners into regulars since 2001. Each morning, along with a multiplication problem, the day's specials and freshly made soup option are scrawled on the cafe chalkboard, though of course, many patrons stick to their tried-and-true favorites. These might include a classic two-egg breakfast plate, breakfast tacos, or french toast from the griddle. Or if it's lunch, buffalo burgers, patty melts off the grill, loaded baked potatoes, or fried fish sandwiches.
At BerriBlends, self-serving dessert composers create custom frozen yogurt masterpieces. First, self-directed guests select tart or sweet yogurt flavors ($0.43/oz.). Dessert designers then cloak their cold foundations with walls of chocolate, berries, and other fresh toppings, much like a carpenter building a delicious house that can be disassembled with a spoon and strategic sweet tooth. Those who pursue healthy lifestyles can choose from a plethora of wholesome frozen-yogurt varieties, such as fat-free, low-calorie, diabetic-safe, lactose-safe, pro-biotic, and pro-American. BerriBlends also concocts several smoothies and coffee drinks.
In 2008, four sisters started Bambu Desserts & Drinks as a hobby. Today, the San Jose?born brand has established a major presence in the Bay Area, and has expanded to other states including Hawaii, Nevada, and Texas. Bambu?s success can be traced to the quality of its treats, as well as its variety: the menu is packed with about 100 Asian-inspired desserts and beverages. Tapioca balls float in their milk teas, which range in flavor from lychee to coconut to jasmine, and their dessert drinks combine such intriguing ingredients as coconut, pandan jelly, longan, basil seed?which form the Bambu special. Various hot and cold coffee drinks, such as Vietnamese coffee, caf? mochas, and lattes, put a spring in guests' step?more convenient than filling your shoes with jumping beans. The staffers also concoct blended coffees and smoothies, which come in flavors including strawberry, coconut, papaya, and avocado