For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
In addition to excellent challah bread and all manner of other baked goods, this long-time Houston bakery also makes great cupcakes; there's virtually nothing you can't order from Three Brothers. Our favorite are its baseball cupcakes and moist Italian cream cupcakes with cream cheese icing.
9. MMM Cupcake
This food truck specializes in a variety of fruit-flavored cupcakes, from strawberry-banana to pineapple, but also makes fun flavors like cookies 'n' cream. Its buttercream frostings are great, too, and the rotation even features a tangy lemon cream cheese we can't get enough of.
You'll never get a stale, dried-out cupcake here, where everything is baked fresh daily. The inventory goes too quickly for the cupcakes to sit out long, too, which is further proof that the Houston chain deserves all the accolades it gets.
Sure, you can get standards at Frosted Betty. You can even get some whimsical creations like banana cupcakes with peanut butter cream cheese frosting. But the real draw here are the unique creations like pistachio-cardamom cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes with lychee frosting or Frosted Betty's line of "cocktail cupcakes" that are purpose-built for parties.
6. Bella Cibo
"Unassuming" is the best way to describe this Cypress-area bakery, which blew many Inner Loop cupcakeries away in our Cupcake Smackdown. Not only is the cake always moist and the frosting always whipped, the bakery also specializes in making your cupcakes into any shape or creation you can think of.
The first of two cupcake purveyors with no actual storefront, Top Chef: Just Desserts contestant Rebecca Masson's cupcakes through her company -- Fluff Bake Bar -- can be ordered online and/or picked up at Revival Market along with her other creations like homemade Fluffernutters and Moon Pies.
Like Masson's, Jody Stevens's cupcakes generally have to be ordered ahead of time through her company, Jodycakes. You can also get them every Wednesday at the weekly wine-and-cupcake pairings that take place at 13 Celsius. And if you're vegan or gluten-free, Jodycakes is the best baker in town to suit your dietary needs.
I only need two reasons to love Sugarbaby's: No. 1, Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes infused with ancho chile, cayenne and cinnamon and topped with Mexican vanilla cinnamon cream cheese frosting. No. 2, Saint Arnold Stout Chocolate infused Winter Stout and topped with whipped chocolate ganache. Done and done.
Owner Vanessa O'Donnell does a lot more than just cupcakes at her shop, which recently expanded into a shiny new spot in Town & Country Village. But it's the cupcakes we like best, including her signature Velvet Elvis (the best red velvet in town) and Boston Cream Pie cupcakes, which also come in a jumbo sizes.
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The cupcakes are dense and richly flavored, and the frostings are so smooth and thick, they taste as good as a piece of fudge. With flavors like white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter chocolate, red velvet and mint chocolate, Crave Cupcakes are truly crave-worthy. Handmade with care, each big-enough-to-share dessert is worth every penny of its $3.25 price tag, and people can't seem to get enough, ordering them by the dozen for everything from office parties to afternoon tea. The new Crave location on Kirby is larger, with more seating room, and easier to navigate for a quick in-and-out dessert stop. And if you wake up feeling like you have to have a cupcake to start the day, from Mondays through Fridays they open as early as 8 a.m.