With some offices still closed because of flood damage from Harvey, more people than usual may be flocking to local coffee shops — laptops in tow — in search of caffeinated productivity. Proper brain fuel is obviously important for maximum productivity no matter where you are, so let's discuss some of the more interesting snacks you can procure around Houston-area coffee shops. Here are ten highly cravable items that you should factor into your next visit.
10. Biscuits from Morningstar, 4721 North Main
You can find these square, buttery, housemade biscuits at both Blacksmith and Morningstar (since they share owners), but where Blacksmith offers two options for biscuit accoutrements (crème fraîche and marmalade or sausage, egg and cheddar), Morningstar offers a heartier additional option with honey butter fried chicken with sambal and pickles. As a bonus, Morningstar doughnuts are also sold at both locations, so if you're hankering for a sweeter snack, their tasty orbs of fried dough are also an option.
9. Everything bar from Sinfull Bakery, various locations
These chewy, oat-y, lightly sweet bars are "everything we can find in the bakery put into one bar," according to the Sinfull website. An oat and flax base, sweetened with agave and maple, is studded with pecans, almonds, raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips and cinnamon. They're like a cross between a granola bar and a soft-baked oatmeal cookie. You can find Sinfull baked goods at pretty much any coffee shop around town, including Retrospect Coffee Bar, Black Hole, Antidote, Catalina, Inversion and more.
8. Tamales from Campesino, 2602 Waugh
In a sea of danishes, muffins and other pastries, this Latin cafe in Montrose offers welcome savory bites. Tamale offerings cater to both meat eaters and eschewers with chicken or vegan-friendly pisque (bean and corn) tamales. Empanada varieties include a vegetable and vegan cheese, chorizo scramble or picadillo, among others. For a hearty snack, one tamale or empanada comes with a small heap of plantain chips with chimichurri and hot sauce, but you can easily upgrade to a combo empanada and tamale basket for a full meal. Round out your meal with a cafe de olla or an horchata latte and you'll be one happy snacker.
7. Carrot souffle from Paper Co., 1100 Elder
Community-minded Paper Co. Cafe has no shortage of delicious items on its menu (I'm particularly excited to get there for brunch one day to try the Kaya French toast, which features coconut custard-infused Texas toast and spiced almonds); Paper Co. is one of the rare coffee shops where customers can reap the benefits of what seems like a full kitchen in addition to the espresso machine. It offers a common meal daily, priced on a sliding scale so that those more fortunate can help the local homeless have a good meal. The light and fluffy carrot soufflé is one of the side options (or opt for Mexican street corn, mac 'n' cheese or maybe the pita and hummus) and it just looks like the type of side that would make studying 100,000 times better.
6. Biscotti from Blonde Biscotti, 1000 West Gray, Suite 100
Somehow, chowing down on one of the soft-baked biscotti at this quiet new Montrose coffee and biscotti shop seems slightly more virtuous than downing a regular cookie. Flavors include birthday cake, fig and walnut, vanilla, red velvet and more. They're soft enough (think semi-sturdy coffee cake) that you can eat them on the go without having to stop and dunk them in coffee, making them an ideal snack whether you're planning to get some work done in the bright and peaceful corner space or just stopping by between errands.
5. Baklava from Agora, 1712 Westheimer
The pastry case at Montrose coffee shop Agora almost rivals the one at Phoenicia, with its vast selection of muffins, danishes, cookies and more. The baklava is rich, nut-filled and soaked in a sweet syrup as all baklava should be. There's also a broad selection of desserts and snacks from local vendors like Fluff Bake Bar and Sinfull as well as packaged snacks and candy — it's one of the few places in town where you can snag a Kinder Bueno.
4. Nutella croissant from Fellini Cafe, 5211 Kelvin, 794 Sorella Court
What's a coffee shop without a good croissant? You can find delicious variations all over town (the almond croissant at Bacchus or the sky-high croissants at Common Bond, to name a few), but so far, I've only found a Nutella-stuffed version at Italian-influenced Fellini Cafe. Stop by either locale — Rice Village or CityCentre — for one of these gooey yet flaky creations. They're best paired with a strong espresso. And good luck trying to resist a chaser of the fresh cannoli.
3. Tomato croissant at Tout Suite, 2001 Commerce
It takes a Herculean effort to pass up the gorgeous pastel displays of macarons, alluring slices of layer cake and shiny plated desserts at this sleek coffee shop in EaDo (with an additional location in the Memorial mall), but this narrow pastry encasing a tasty mixture of tomato and cheese always hits the spot when you're feeling snacky but not in the mood for a sugar rush or a full meal. It's almost perfectly snack-sized, infinitely more exciting than a plain croissant, and goes well with a side of iced coffee.
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2. Quiche from Cafe Brasil, 2604 Dunlavy
There's an article in Bon Appétit, "In Defense of Quiche," that discusses how a generous ratio of cream to egg is the key to creating a good quiche with a "disarmingly rich texture." Cafe Brasil hits this ratio perfectly with slices of melt-in-your-mouth quiche (the restaurant offers meat and vegetarian options daily) chock-full of fillings with flaky pastry. The delicate slices with a side of salad make for a substantial snack or a light meal, and the selection of in-house baked goods on the counter is always tempting.
1. Churros from Cafeza, 1720 Houston Avenue
The thin, crispy churros at this Spanish-inspired cafe come equipped with sauce — you can buy just three churros with a choice of chocolate, guava or the daily special sauce or the monster combo of 12 churros with all three sauces if you're snacking with friends. Although Cafeza's menu spans a variety of full entrées, like sandwiches, salads and tacos, there are a bunch of snacks on offer as well. For a more savory option, the deep-fried cotija cheese (a firm Mexican cheese), patatas bravas (fried potatoes with garlic and salsa) or a grand charcuterie board are all appealing choices.