Katharine Shilcutt just counted down her top 10 coffee houses in town. While those places are great, we all hit Starbucks now and again, too. On average, I visit once a week. I'm certainly not the biggest fan, but I do find their java exceeds the horse piss that most breakfast spots serve up. I have my usual, the Tall Pike's Place with a little cream and sugar substitute. Are you an occasional Starbucks visitor or a die-hard addict? Either way, here are Houston's five best.
5. Uptown Girls (1151-12 Uptown Park Blvd) Located on a corner spot in Uptown Park, this Starbucks really has it all. You'll find young folk studying (no surprise there) and Memorial/River Oaks cougars prowling, among a generally hip morning and evening crowd. My time spent here was as an after-dinner patron while courting my wife. See, I fancied her, and some fond dating memories took place at this Starbucks. Best feature: That sweet outdoor patio facing Post Oak.
4. Is There a Doctor in the House? (6600 Fannin) Chances are very good you'll find a doctor in the house at this Fannin location. If you're one of the aforementioned cougars in search of a white-coated golden ticket, this is the place to hit. Just park yourself down and watch the docs scurry about. Be focused, though--I've yet to meet a physician who walks slowly. That person doesn't exist. Why? Because they've got lives to save. Best feature: You get to overhear doctors talk about gross stuff.
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3. My Bucks (43rd 1206 West 43rd Street) The Starbucks near the corner of 43rd and Ella is my Starbucks. It's fairly new and holds a special place in my heart (if that's possible for a mega-chain to do). I've lived in this area for most of my life and, for better or worse, when a Starbucks comes to town, other establishments follow. Starbucks paved the way for Plonk, Massage Envy, the Kroger's Fuel Center (my favorite) and many others. This area is experiencing a nice revitalization, and Starbucks certainly played a part in that. Okay, wipe away the tears. Sappy story aside, this Starbucks is free-standing, fairly large, and runs one of the most expedient drive-thrus in town. Best feature: Fast, friendly service all the time.
2. Clean Up, Aisle 10 (2075 Westheimer) Westheimer is the Capital of Houston Coffee. Big chains, mom-and-pops, and local favorites--you name it, this street's got it. Sure, it would have been easy to pick the Starbucks across from the Galleria. But I dug deeper and found this hidden gem buried inside a Randalls. From the outside, it looks like just another run-of-the-mill Starbucks. Oh, but it's so much more. Cozy up on one of the leather sofas with your Frap. Enjoy the roaring (fake log) fire. But please, when you're done sucking down a thousand calories of liquid, don't forget to pick up some eggs and bread. Best feature: That fire keeps your tootsies warm.
1. Mall Rat (900 South Gessner #745) There's nothing not to like about Memorial City Mall's Starbucks. It looks like a spacecraft landed next to Bath and Body Works. There's always a steady stream of customers, and during peak times, it's absolutely packed. Seating is offered 360 degrees around the restaurant. The openness and aesthetic appeal sets this Starbucks apart from the rest. Best feature: Great for people-watching.