Good Deeds: Volunteer Time and Food

Show you care this holiday season.

4. Arandas Bakery

There are several Arandas Bakery locations throughout Houston, and each offers a multitude of classic Mexican cakes, pastries, cookies and savory baked goods. Arandas hands you a metal tray and tongs to select from the wide variety of pastries and breads; the only downside is the lack of labels, but that's what makes shopping at a Mexican bakery so much fun! While anything you choose is bound to be tasty, the best savory options are the pan de anis (bread with sesame seeds) and, of course, the bolillos (especially when they're fresh from the oven). Sweet-tooth cravings can easily be fixed with a guava-filled empanada, a delicate and soft concha, or a single serving of luscious, creamy flan.

3. La Guadalupana Bakery and Cafe

La Guadalupana is a tucked-away gem on the residential portion of Dunlavy. The quaint cafe and bakery is an excellent breakfast stop or a perfect place to sit and relax with a pastry and cup of coffee after lunch. La Guadalupana serves a variety of classic Mexican sweets and breads but also offers a few traditional French baked goods, such as croissants and palmiers (owner Trancito Diaz worked as a baker at the Houston Country Club, where he made French pastries and breads). Your best bet for an excellent Mexican pastry for breakfast or a snack is an ojo de buey or marranitos (little pigs). The pig-shaped molasses cookies are soft and slightly sweet and pair wonderfully with a fresh cup of coffee.

2. Viva Itacate

Just off I-45 North on Sawdust, you will find Viva Itacate, a family-owned Mexican bakery. On nice days the owners will open the bakery doors, allowing a breeze to drift through the cafe as patrons enjoy pastries, breads, desserts and even lunch. Sit down with a torta de tinga de pollo (roasted chicken sandwich with beans, tomato, cheese and pickled red onions stuffed in a fresh bolillo) or a torta de cochinita (slow-roasted pork with tomato, cheese and pickled red onions with beans inside a bolillo). Pair a piece of pan de elote (cornbread) with carrot soup to warm up on a cold winter day. Sweeter options include the horn-shaped pastries (cuernitos) and coronita cajeta, which is basically a Mexican doughnut with dulce de leche. If you're unsure as to what you should order, just ask the manager, and he'll be more than happy to help you make a decision.

1. El Bolillo

You can't make a trip to El Bolillo without getting a bolillo (or two...or a dozen). But if you're interested in getting something sweet at this Mexican bakery on Airline Drive, then order a slice of tres leches cake — you won't regret it. The moist cake comes in a variety of flavors, including pineapple, chocolate and strawberry, all of which add an extra-sweet component to the popular dessert. But if you're more a fan of traditional Mexican pastries, there's an endless array of options for your metal tray. El Bolillo has everything from conchas and cuernos to pastries filled with fruit jams and others topped with sweet icing. Either way, if you don't walk out of the bakery with a bolillo and a slice of tres leches cake, you're shorting yourself on the best possible experience El Bolillo has to offer.

Top 10

Lawsuits, Rude Restaurant Staff and Rats
The top 10 Houston culinary scandals of 2013.

Kaitlin Steinberg

As the year comes to a close, we're taking some time to look back fondly on some of our favorite memories from the past 12 months. There were wonderful meals, exciting openings and heartwarming stories from some of our best chefs.

And then there were all the scandals, the shocking revelations, the feet in mouths. Without these folks keeping things interesting, 2013 would have been all about good food and good fun. And who wants that, really? We're a culture that savors schadenfreude, wrong though it may be.

So here, to sate your appetite for awkwardness, is a list of 2013's best culinary scandals in Houston, in chronological order. Sit back, relax and revel in other people's pickles.

February 12, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake: Chef Bruce Molzan Sends Out Pizza to Protesters

Oh, Bruce. You give us such fodder for articles like these. Back in February, Molzan seemingly tried to help a situation, but ultimately made it worse when he had waiters for Corner Table take two pizzas outside to former waitstaff of another of Molzan's businesses who were protesting because they said he owed them back wages. The chants quickly changed from various expressions of outrage to "No food; pay me!" A representative for Corner Table said simply, "We sent out pizzas. We don't want to be ugly. There's no need to be ugly."

April 4, 2013

Restaurants Behaving Badly: Maggie Rita's Calls Houston Woman "Fat" on Facebook

We've seen things like this before. Someone in the restaurant biz forgets it's a service industry and, for better or for worse, gives a customer a piece of his or her mind. I mean, we certainly can't expect chefs, waiters and restaurateurs to be docile drones all the time, but they probably shouldn't say stuff like this, either. When Amanda Newman wrote on restaurant Maggie Rita's Facebook wall that she was happy they closed, someone behind the Maggie Rita's computer came back with some choice words about Newman's weight. Our commenters got in on the conversation, too, proving that old adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

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