Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
The line between latte and work of art is blurry at Fuego Coffee, thanks to a team of baristas who painstakingly swirl foam into hearts, snowflakes, and paisley teardrops. Though their pouring skills are impressive, their work starts long before the coffee finds its way to the cup. The shop sources its beans from organic growers and roasts them locally to ensure consistency and freshness. Only after the baristas grind these beans do they end up in a cappuccino, Cuban espresso, or one of 20 flavored energy drinks.
But these beverages aren't all that makes Fuego Coffee unique. The shop also features two drive-thru lanes for customers who are in a rush and whose gas tanks accept only premium roast. Those who have a minute can take advantage of the shop's dog-friendly policy, which allows leashed pets to sit with their owners.
It would take months to sample every single flavor of shaved ice at MamboFreeze?after tasting all of the traditional flavors such as lemon and apple, there are still over a hundred imaginative varieties to try. The little shaved ice trailer offers more than 200 varieties of the frozen treat, including unconventional flavors such as jalape?o stinger and buttered popcorn, along with a slew of sugar-free options. Servers top the frosty treats in an array of rich toppings, from cream to caramel. Additionally, guests can indulge in frozen yogurt or smoothies blended into vibrant flavors such as orange creamsicle and strawberry basil.
Aromas of baking sourdough, amber rye, and brioche bread waft from the ovens of Texas French Bread, winner of the Austin Chronicle's Restaurant Poll Readers award for Best Bread in 2009, 2010, and 2011. For the past three decades, these ovens have been churning out artisan breads, pastries, and desserts made from scratch, and under the helm of brothers Ben and Murphy Willcott, the ovens now cook a dinner menu of local and sustainable rustic French fare, earning a place in the top five on the Growers Alliance of Central Texas's Truly Local 2011 restaurants survey. Yet neither of the brothers set out to be bakers. Murph, a Harvard law-school graduate and lawyer, and Ben, a student of English literature, both enjoyed staying up late, cooking, and coordinating aprons with spatulas so they decided to take over Texas French Bread with the goal of turning it from bakery into bistro because, as Murph claims, "rock star and/or Hollywood movie mogul seemed like a stretch."
In the kitchen, Ben crafts a weekly rotating menu hewn under the guidelines of famed chef Alice Waters, with local, fresh, and simple ingredients from the urban farms of Boggy Creek and Angel Valley, served in season at their peak. Meanwhile, the pastry chef sculpts key-lime tartlets, cupcakes, and cream puffs to accompany cups of coffee or espresso drinks made with locally roasted beans from Anderson's Coffee Company. The house blend combines premium East African beans with a Costa Rican hard bean, barrel-cooked to a medium-brown, full-city roast to jump-start mornings without licking a car battery.
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.
Inspired by the ice-cream namesake, the bakers of Cupprimo Cupcakery layer three flavors of batter into the neapolitan cupcake, and they go a step beyond conventional by capping the cupcake off with a two-frosting swirl. That colorful and original concoction was part of owner Amy Brown’s arsenal when she battled another local baker on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Though she didn’t win that bout, Amy and her desserts aren’t without decoration; her s’more cupcakes garnered a spot in the Austin Chronicle’s Best of 2011 lineup, hailed as “an incredibly sticky mash-up of deliciousness.” These flavors join a rotating menu that also includes simple chocolate and strawberry flavors and creative honey-chai and mimosa cupcakes that, like a celebration of 11:14 a.m., can be enjoyed on a daily basis.