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Searching for the Perfect Muffin

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We were getting a little tired of mediocrity, okay? We'd been in Houston six months and still hadn't found a muffin that did any better than a B-minus, or maybe a B, depending on how poorly the other idiot pupils graded on the curve.

Sure, there are great breakfast spots, plenty of donut options, and those are fine. But nothing feels like Grandma's kitchen more than a muffin with a tea or coffee when you've got a slow morning to really enjoy it.

The blueberry offering at Kolache Factor was hideous, and the same option at Kraftsmen Bakers was flavorless (though their bran variety at least got a passing grade). The muffins at Diedrich Coffee, Catalina Coffee and Agora Café were all baked off-site.

The best we'd found was a pistachio muffin at Croissant Brioche in Rice Village, but that was too small, too cookie-cutter standard, with no excitement or decadence or top overflowing from the paper cup. It went well with coffee but couldn't stand confidently on its own.

Still unsatisfied, we turned to the Internets for other options.

First was Bakery Donuts at 1203 W. 11th St. in the Heights. The blueberry's top and bottom were indistinguishable, a major pet peeve for us. The flavorless berries themselves might as well have been blotches of food-coloring. If it wasn't made from a box mix, it sure tasted like it was. The carrot option was far better: moist, with some nice spices mixed between the raisins and walnuts.

But the best muffin option we've found yet was at Stone Mill Bakers, at 2518 Kirby. The cranberry oat was gritty in a healthy, earthy, grainy way. The place didn't hold back on the oats. The bits of cranberries mixed into the dough obscured the flavor on some bites, but all told this was a heavy load of goodness. The blueberry muffin here also was above-average. The least healthy, but also the moistest, was the pumpkin cream cheese, a very spicy, nutmeg- and clove-heavy version that really suited our mood. The glob of cream cheese on top was unwieldy but no detriment.

That said, we're happy to keep looking. Even Stone Mill would earn an A-minus in our book. Any suggestions?

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