Tag Archives: Texas

Update: Where to Find a Good Cup of Coffee in Spring and The Woodlands

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I’m always on the prowl for new and interesting places to get a good cup of coffee in the suburbs northwest of Houston. It’s easy to get spoiled by places like Blacksmith in the Montrose area, where every bean is meticulously sourced and the espresso drinks are made with such artistry. And though Spring and The Woodlands may not be known as bastions of coffee culture, you don’t have to resign yourself to a long wait in line at a certain American global coffee chain that shall remain nameless. So here, in no particular order, is a list of (mostly) local coffee houses and other spots out this way that take their coffee seriously.

This list is updated from time to time as new coffee shops pop up and as others, sadly, close their doors: Continue reading

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Delicious Detours: Giving Thanks at New Zion Missionary Baptist Church BBQ

My dad came to visit from Louisiana a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Sort of an early holiday visit, since John and I had decided to take a vacation with the kids during Thanksgiving week. This time, my dad wanted to get out of the house and “see the sights.” When he told me this, my mind started clicking in about a dozen different directions. A lot of strategic planning is involved in showing my dad “the sights.” I figure it has to be something not too far from the house, something that is quintessential Texas, and, preferably for both of us, someplace where good eats are fairly close at hand. Why not Huntsville?

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Gringo’s Shines in New I-45 North Location

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The air was more than brisk as we pulled into the Spring Park Village retail development, north of FM 1960 on I-45. Our destination, the new location of Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen. (Disclosure: I was part of a group invited to a pre-opening event held a few days prior to the restaurant’s official opening. As guests, we were treated to dinner.) You won’t need your GPS to get here. The restaurant has maximum visibility, fronting the freeway service road, near the Spring High School exit, and is awash in the glow of the gargantuan Topgolf entertainment complex, which sits only a few hundred yards behind it.

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Not so very long ago, there was a single sleepy shopping center out this way, where Albertson’s and some other tenants languished and met their slow demise. But now, with the Exxon campus bursting forth only a few miles north and the latest leg of the Grand Parkway going in just up the road, this area has come to the attention of some heavy hitters, or maybe you would call them shooters and swingers. First Gander Mountain opened an outdoor megastore and shooting range, and then came Topgolf this past April. With a nearby Starbuck’s, an ATT store and several fast food places in the mix, it was just a matter of time before a casual dining chain took advantage of the retail and amusement synergy. That’s what Gringo’s has done, and if the crowds in recent weeks are any indication, they are doing it well.

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A Kitchen Garden for Fall and Winter

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We’ve finally cracked the heat barrier here in Houston, and though summer does not go down without a good fight in this part of Texas, October is the month that our weather makes the transformation from Guam-like heat and humidity to some amazingly beautiful, “California coastal” temperate days. Now that our evenings are a tad cooler (i.e., no longer in the 80’s), I’ve started gathering the makings for a fall kitchen garden.

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Brisket is My Kryptonite

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A question that is music to my ears: Would you like lean, fatty or burnt ends?

It’s not by choice that I love smoked brisket. Apparently I was born this way. Or maybe all that meaty smoke just overwhelmed my taste buds when I arrived here from Louisiana years ago.

Some of my favorite blog reading is focused around my obsession with brisket and Central Texas barbecue. These barbecue bloggers know their stuff, and they’re a great place to get advice about the best places to eat and why. Their blog names give you an idea of what their posts are like: Don O’s Texas BBQ, Texas BBQ Posse and, my favorite blog name ever, Man Up: Tales of Texas BBQ. These are the true believers, the aficionados who were chewing the fat (literally) before the recent national fame of Franklin Barbecue in Austin made Central Texas smoked meats trendy to ponder. For years, these guys have put in the miles, taken the detailed photographs, broken down their experiences into spreadsheets and charts. Some of them write for a living, some of them are just dedicated, regular dudes. They all seem to spend the bulk of their spare time criss-crossing the state on their own time and dime, searching out the best Texas ‘cue.

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Cheese Spotting at the Local Farmers Market

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We were up bright and early last Saturday to visit our local farmers market. The tables were piled high with colorful root veggies, leafy greens and bright tomatoes. But I was on a mission–in search of late summer artisanal cheese.

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Cupcakes for Breakfast. Is That So Wrong?

(Update: Unfortunately, this bakery is permanently closed.)

It’s mid-morning, and I’m on my way back from dropping my daughter at day camp. On one side of the road, cows graze in an open field, on the other a large banner ruffles in the breeze. Its bold red lettering has been working on me each day, all summer long, planting a suggestion in my mind: How about a cupcake this morning?

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Today I am giving in. My son’s birthday is coming up, so “taste testing” is the perfect excuse to stop by. I ease into a parking spot right up front. The Cupcake Cowgirls is located in a small strip center and office park that sits on a less developed stretch of Kuykendahl Road, a little rural oasis between Spring and The Woodlands, Texas.

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