Hot to Trot

Houston's 10 best spots for a first date.

5. Gourmet Marshmallows

Gourmet flavored marshmallows are definitely on the rise. Not only are they difficult to make, but there are so many different types of marshmallows based on flavor and shape. Don't just settle for Peeps from Easter for a gourmet marshmallow treat. You'll want to stock up on chocolate, coconut, vanilla bean, lemon, caramel and other sugary, fruity and extravagant flavors for the summer. Can you say gourmet s'mores?

4. Gourmet Popcorn

Kick back at Down House.
Troy Fields
Kick back at Down House.
Bowls of various ramen at Ramen Tatsu-ya in Austin.
Katharine Shilcutt
Bowls of various ramen at Ramen Tatsu-ya in Austin.

Popcorn is definitely one of the easiest street foods and snacks to eat. But there's more to popcorn than just butter and caramel flavors. An article in TIME noted that gourmet popcorn bars are starting to take over cupcake shops. People are beginning to use gourmet popcorn bars at weddings and other events as well. With sweet flavors like cinnamon, cheesecake and s'mores and savory flavors like bacon, wasabi and black truffles, the sky's the limit for gourmet popcorn flavors.

3. Macarons

The French definitely knew what they were doing with the macaron. The first time you taste a French macaron, you will feel sheer bliss. They are perfectly crunchy on the outside and sugary and soft on the inside and almost look like works of art. With all the beautiful colors and flavors of macarons, there's no doubt in my mind that the public will be attracted to these little gems.

2. Gourmet Popsicles

It's the perfect time of year to enjoy a cool, refreshing popsicle. Sure, you could just buy a popsicle from the store, but why would you when you can purchase homemade gourmet popsicles? Flavors range from fruity to boozy, and most naturally made popsicles are quite healthy, too. Get ready for more popsicle stands and trucks to start popping up around the country. Maybe a few will come to Houston soon.

1. Gourmet Donuts

No, I'm not talking about the box full of glazed donuts you grab on the way to a business meeting at work. Gourmet donuts have begun sweeping the nation while cupcakes fizz away. Whether they're bite-size or full-size, donuts are always a good choice. Who wouldn't want fried dough dipped in powdered sugar, decorated with chocolate drizzle, coconut and sprinkles, or filled with custard, jelly and other sweets? Donuts have outstanding potential for replacing cupcakes as dessert choices on the go or in the store. Not to mention that they're much cheaper than cupcakes.


Goodbye to Tex, Mex and Czech.


Jeannine's Bistro remains closed in Montrose with no word from owner Andrew Klarman as to its eventual reopening date. The popular Belgian bistro closed temporarily April 20 due to staffing issues.

Plenty of other doors were shut this week, too, including the beloved Olde Towne Kolaches bakery on Memorial Drive. According to Houstonia food editor Robb Walsh, the Czech-style kolache shop is looking for a "new location in the Memorial neighborhood." The original Olde Towne at 12037 Northwest Freeway is still open.

And to no one's great surprise, Pepper Jack's Mexican Grill and Cantina closed its doors last week as well. Sources say that after Cabo moved out of the two-story downtown space near Market Square Park, the landlords figured it would be simple to continue operating a Tex-Mex restaurant in the same spot. Running a restaurant ain't easy work, though, and Pepper Jack's never recaptured the old Cabo audience — but it did garner some fairly mediocre reviews on Yelp.

In other Tex-Mex farewells, owners Terry Flores and Lily Hernandez have announced that they'll be closing Bocados on May 5, after a final Cinco de Mayo fiesta. CultureMap reports that Flores and Hernandez won't be gone for long, however. The pair plan to open a new restaurant downtown, called The Red Ox.

CultureMap also reports that the old Bocados location won't be empty for long: Lafayette-based restaurant Brick & Spoon is moving in. This will be the second location of the Creole-and-cocktails restaurant, although its first location, in Lafayette, just opened. According to its Facebook page, owners Ryan Trahan and Bryan Jewell also plan a Brick & Spoon location for Orange Beach, California, in the near future.

Now open is Federal American Grill, which replaced Branch Water Tavern and which also seems to have somewhat dropped its middle name and is mostly going by simply "The Federal Grill." The menu of upscale comfort food — featuring dishes such as barbecued bone marrow and a smoked pork chop with pimento cheese polenta — is being overseen by executive chef Michael Hoffman and chef Antoine Ware.

Finally, it looks like a sleuth has found the address for Moon Tower Inn's new project, the Voodoo Queen: 322 Milby, which most recently housed Joe's Bar & Grill in the shadow of the massive Maximus coffee plant off Harrisburg. The rear of the building houses a washateria, which we hope to God is still operating when Voodoo Queen opens. Spin cycles are like laundry's little booze breaks.

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