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.
As an arm of the popular Mustafa Asian & Middle Eastern Grocery, Mustafa Restaurant plies patrons with deliciously authentic dishes of South Asian cuisine from all regions of the subcontinent. Siblings Syed Riyaz Siddiqui and Mohammed Fayaz charm visitors with an expansive bill of fare filled with nutty roasted basmati rice, tender hyderabadi chicken curry, and sweet, creamy Indian yogurt desserts. The menu takes visitors on a culinary journey of India and Pakistan, from the stir-fried noodle dishes that originate from Kolkata's Chinatown to the paper-thin dosas and gram flour donuts that grow from the trees of South India.
As guests savor the spices and fragrances of goan fish curry or fluffy, buttery naan, an elegant atmosphere envelops them. Beaded crimson cloth and sheer white curtains frame a room full of velvety pillows, embroidered wall decorations, and a buffet full of curries, basmati rice, and desserts.
French gastronome Brillat-Savarin once said, “A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” Today’s Groupon makes sure your beautiful women all have two eyes. For just $15, you can get $35 worth of fromage, vin, charcuterie, and more at Scardello Artisan Cheese.
When Ben Googins met Rio de Janeiro native Elias Martins while teaching English in Brazil in 1998, he couldn't have guessed that the two would wind up making pão de queijo—cheese bread—on an episode of the Cooking Channel's FoodCrafters with celebrity chef Aida Mollenkamp. Their journey began as Googins learned more and more about the Portuguese language and the generous, hospitable Brazilian culture via Martins's family and their flavorful cooking. The duo eventually moved to Austin in 2006, bent on realizing their dream of opening their own restaurant. After their handmade foods gained popularity at the downtown farmers' market, their all-natural malagueta sauces appeared in Austin's flagship Whole Foods store. They finally opened Rio's Brazilian Café in 2010, where Googins now makes caipirinhas and Martins creates contemporary and traditional Brazilian recipes from scratch. The last Saturday of every month, Martins treats diners to feijoada, a classic Brazilian stew made with pork, beef, sausage, black beans, and the juice of one soccer ball.
He still, of course, makes the restaurant's renowned cheese bread. The basil variety was the favorite of Fearless Critic, which noted that the restaurant is "one of the few places where carnivores, vegetarians, and gluten-intolerant diners can all happily coexist." The restaurant was also a Critics' Pick for Most Charming Brazilian Outpost in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin 2011, and has appeared in numerous publications and on TV shows such as Good Day Austin and Fox 7 News. According to Eater Austin, celebrities Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara have noshed at the cozy eatery, whose bright yellow and green exterior and outdoor patio give way to a similarly vibrant and eclectic dining area.
More than 325 bottles of international wine fill Zambrano Wine Cellar’s shelves and its climate-controlled wine cellar, arranged by chef, wine enthusiast, and owner Cef Zambrano. When not hobnobbing with celebrities such as Harrison Ford, Nolan Ryan, and Katie Couric, Zambrano coordinates a menu of bistro fare to harmonize with his library of wine selections, which received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2009. Zambrano presents updated takes on Mediterranean favorites, crafting small plates of escargot broiled in garlic butter and shallots, as well as four types of bruschetta topped with tomato, chicken, duck, or fillet tips. Diners can dive into shared nibbles with custom plates of international meats and cheeses or pizzas topped margherita-style or with signature spanish ham.
Zambrano’s prized glass wine cellar sits behind a smooth stone bar, inlaid with variegated amethyst that glows as it catches the light better than an outfielder with a magnifying glass. While perched at its high-backed leather banquettes, diners can sip from the 50-plus list of wines by the glass while gazing at a flat-screen TV in the corner or admiring the custom art on the dining room’s exposed-brick walls. In the front of the dining room, gauzy orange curtains frame sheets of sunlight that illuminate simple wooden tables, each adorned with a single flower that provides color and an amuse-bouche for hungrier guests. A sidewalk patio offers al fresco dining and bustling sights of Sundance Square.
Operating under the mantra Flavor Your Life, Bahama Buck's sends its patrons on a tropical holiday with every sip of its gourmet drinks. Island-inspired decor outfits each Bahama Buck's location, and the business's approach to flavor as an art form—with more than 90 flavors of shaved ice—carries over to its smoothies, which send creamy concoctions climbing through straws to rouse tasters with the zest of fresh fruit and juices. Hawaii's Kona coffee beans are used for Island House coffees, and island specialties, such as 100% natural juices, provide an afternoon pick-me-up without the pressure of negotiating with the intimidating children in charge of neighborhood lemonade stands.