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Plastic? Fantastic!

La Vista's cheap patio furniture and outdoor ambience set the mood for its home-style fare

To judge by the dessert menu, La Vista's after-dinner treats would appear startlingly simple. Then the delicacies arrive at your table. A warm, wholesome bread pudding ($4.50) was chock-full of pine nuts -- yes, pine nuts -- as well as chocolate chips, and smothered in a rum sauce with bits of mango. And in a town with too much tiramisu already, we found the area's best ($4.50) here, creamier, cheesier and more chocolaty than any I've tasted. Another crowd pleaser was a thick homemade brownie ($4), oozing with hot fudge and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Those desserts were the perfect ending to a couple of near-perfect nights -- except for one thing. We discovered from our waiter that La Vista doesn't "do coffee." What the hey? we thought, our caffeine-free brains swimming in confusion. No booze or coffee? All was quickly forgiven when we saw the bill. We thought it was a mistake. We've spent less at the neighborhood Ninfa's on kids-eat-free night.

With or without the sedatives and stimulants, La Vista has captured my heart. Sure, the sidewalk cafe is too brightly lit and the plastic tables don't have so much as a votive candle on them, but to people like us, everything about the place sets the mood for a lovely evening out. Simply said, La Vista is downright charming.

Baby, it's hot outside, but that's still the best spot to sample chef-owner Greg Gordon's fare.
Amy Spangler
Baby, it's hot outside, but that's still the best spot to sample chef-owner Greg Gordon's fare.

Rumor has it that regulars don't want the world to discover this two-year-old hideaway. Judging from the crowds waiting for tables on weekends, La Vista already has plenty of patrons without the publicity. But sometimes a higher moral authority takes precedent: To keep this place under wraps would be a crime, if not a sin, against foodies across the city.

La Vista, 1936 Fountainview, (713)787-9899.

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