It's not exactly cool outside, even at close to midnight, but it's even warmer inside CoCo's Crepes and Coffee (218-A Gray St., 713-521-0700). The heat emanates off the pastry display cases and lingers in the air inside the vaguely Italian-inspired pocket-sized shop. Luckily most of the tables and most of the patrons have found themselves quite happily situated outside.
We grab a Chinese checkers board, which sits untouched through our meal as we lose ourselves in deep conversation and sugar high-induced giggles. An attractive trio under an awning has taken advantage of CoCo's bring-your-own-wine policy and another couple munches on some late-night panini while oblivious to the outside world. Actually, you could say we're all oblivious to anything beyond the radius of our table. Call it a crepe-induced haze.
On our table are one crepe with Nutella and banana and one with cinnamon and sugar. As far as sweets cravings go, both deliver. The crepe itself is a little thicker and a little doughier than is maybe ideal, but that's pretty much the only quibble we can find. With the thick, melted Nutella any deviation from perfection is almost imperceptible. It's not quite as sweet (or as cheap) as watching a street vendor in Paris make one fresh in front of you on a record player-like griddle, but it's pretty damn good.
On the beverage side, August nights call for cooler concoctions, obviously. The Coco Loco smoothie, with pineapple, banana, coconut gelato and orange juice, is sweeter and more refreshing than anything at Jamba Juice. That's the difference between gelato and nonfat yogurt, folks. The signature CoCoccinos, CoCo's version of an iced latte, is smooth and flavorful, though the Spiced Chai Cococcino didn't need the whipped cream that came on top. Oh, and ignore the case of bottled waters and just ask for a free glass of tap--it's free (score) and it comes full of that divine, soft Italian ice. Languid nights, good friends, and smushy ice--some of the best things in life are free after all.