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Best Of 2014

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Bread Basket
benjy's

Gone are the days of the standard slices of French baguette with pats of butter. Nowadays, many restaurants offer a bread basket filled with an intriguing array of crackers, flatbreads and other doughy items, sometimes for an additional fee. At benjy's on Washington (and also in Rice Village), you never know what you'll get. Essentially it's a modern interpretation of the bread basket, where bread can be absolutely anything. One day you might munch on a basket full of cornbread and muffins with apple butter, and another you'll savor moist and fluffy cheddar chive biscuits. Maybe it'll be a trio of cheesy shortbread crackers, candied nuts and pickles. Sometimes you'll get a bowl of spiced popcorn. You're always in for a surprise. And the best part? It's free.

5922 Washington, Houston, 77007
MAP
713-868-1131
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2424 Dunstan, Houston, 77005
MAP
713-522-7602
Best Mac and Cheese
Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Head to this Heights kitchenette for not one, not two, but four drool-worthy skillets of macaroni and cheese. Each dish comes hot and bubbling with a crisp, buttery crust and molten, gooey core. Go au naturel with the classic American and aged cheddar skillet; dive head-first into one loaded with sweet and succulent lobster meat and herbs; or go for the gold with a sausage, bacon and chile-loaded affair to remember. An always changing mac of the day — which has been known to include everything from chili-cheese dogs and tater tots to smoked salmon and cream cheese — rounds out the fantastically cheesy quartet.

1050 Studewood St., Houston, 77008
MAP
713-802-0533
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2617 Yale, Houston, 77008
MAP
713-622-8646
Best Farmers' Market

The Urban Harvest Farmers Market at Eastside Street is the place to be on Saturday mornings. From 8 a.m. to noon, numerous vendors set up stations to serve their specialty goods, be they fruits, vegetables, macarons, breads, cheese, coffee or olive oil. You can purchase groceries from local producers, such as Atkinson Farm, Airline Seafood, Tavola Pasta and Tejas Heritage Farm, or grab a few desserts and prepared foods from Sinfull Bakery, Shade and Canopy, and Revival Market. If you miss the market on Saturday, you can stop by on Sunday as well, but there are fewer vendors then.

3000 Richmond Ave., Houston, 77098
MAP
Best Food-Truck Park

My Food Park HTX opened in late 2013 and brought a cornucopia of food-truck cuisine to the west Houston Energy Corridor. With three and a half acres of land, there's always a place to sit and dig into your food — not many food-truck parks have such relaxing seating. The lineup of trucks changes each day, but you can always count on My Food Park HTX to have movie nights each Friday and Saturday, as well as other special themes throughout the week, including Hump Day Wednesdays and Magical Mondays. Pop a squat at a picnic table for an afternoon weekday lunch, or kick off your weekend with dinner and a movie. Stay late on Saturdays to munch on sweets from the likes of Zeapod Cakery and Sno Cone City HTX.

Best Neighborhood Spot in the Village
Café Rabelais
Photo by Houston Press Staff

If you want killer frites with house-made roasted garlic aioli, a fantastic warm goat cheese and hazelnut salad, or classic boeuf bourguignon, get your butt to this French restaurant in Rice Village. Café Rabelais isn't open at all hours of the day, but when it is, these folks are dishing out incredible food in a quaint and rustic French country restaurant. Satisfy any midday hunger pangs with a braised pork shoulder sandwich with honey thyme sauce, pickled onions and carrots for less than $10, or stick to the daily selections of fish and quiche. The menu changes daily, but that's to ensure each dish uses the freshest ingredients. The vanilla ice cream profiteroles or a succulent poached pear are a great way to end a romantic evening.

2442 Times Blvd., Houston, 77005
MAP
713-520-8841
Best Pastry Chef
Rebecca Masson, Fluff Bake Bar
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Rebecca Masson in September 2014 sitting on the floor of the future Fluff Bake Bar space.

Rebecca Masson, a.k.a. The Sugar Fairy, made a name for herself nationally as a competitor on Top Chef: Just Desserts in 2011, but she also has grabbed Houston's attention with exquisite treats from her custom bake shop, Fluff Bake Bar. Various coffee shops and markets in the city sell her unfrosted cakes, cookie sandwiches and French macarons in surprising flavors, such as Werther's Caramel. Her edgy style and adventurous palate help her create finger-licking-good sweets you most certainly want to pair with a glass of milk — or wine. Recently, Masson announced she will open a brick-and-mortar bakery in Midtown after a successful Kickstarter campaign, and along with her delicious cookies, cakes and brownies, she'll be serving wine and beer. Soon you'll have a central place to grab Masson's beautiful and flavorful desserts, rather than searching the city for one of those comforting Fluffernutters.

304 Gray St., Houston, 77004
MAP
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Best Bread Basket: benjy's

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