Russell’s serves all kinds of coffee drinks in addition to lunch items such as soup and sandwiches, but they really excel at desserts. They have everything from moist pumpkin and zucchini tea breads to a rich chocolate ganache layered with mousse. Russell's also has fantastic cookies, brownies, and breakfast pastries. Their flaky croissants are mouth-watering; they have plain croissants, chocolate-stuffed croissants, and croissants stuffed with various meats and cheeses (my favorite is the turkey and provolone -- it's incredible!).
This Euro-style café is a chocolate lover’s paradise. They offer Italian coffee, specialty drinks (including sipping chocolate), salads, and paninis. They serve up organic Italian gelato, which has a third less fat than traditional ice cream. Viva Chocolato has an enormous case full of delicious artisan chocolates and truffles from all around the world (some made in-house) in addition to cakes and other sweets. They offer guided chocolate tastings plus wine and chocolate pairing flights. You can even book the private party room and have an Ultimate Chocolate Party.
This popular bakery has been in Austin for over 30 years. Its cofounders opened it after spending some time in Europe; they wanted to replicate the feel of a Viennese coffee house combined with French boulangerie traditions. They use traditional French cooking methods and use local ingredients when possible. Their salads, soups, breads, and sandwiches are delicious, but their desserts are just sinful. With everything from fruit empanadas to bread pudding to baklava, your sweet tooth will be satisfied. They have incredible cookies – especially the Tollhouse chocolate chip. They also have many cakes and pies.
4. Chez Zee
Chez Zee wears many hats; it calls itself an American bistro, bar, and dessert bakery. Their restaurant offers incredible fine dining, but their desserts keep winning awards every year. Chez Zee’s desserts are all made in-house, and cakes and pies are their speciality. They have an incredible carrot cake, and several flavors of cheesecake, such as the chocolate pumpkin cheesecake. They have several fruity pies, though my favorite dessert here is Maida’s Cake, which is flourless chocolate cake filled with vanilla cream and topped with mocha mousse. And be sure to try their popular crème brulee French toast!
5. Hey Cupcake!
Hey Cupcake! started with one location in campus and was operated out of a vintage Airstream trailer. It has now spread to all corners of Austin, and some locations now have brick and mortar stores instead of trailers. Their cupcakes are very large and served with a hefty dollop of icing on top. For no extra charge, you can make your cupcake a “whipper snapper” – this means they will inject a shot of fresh whipped cream into the center of your delicious cupcake. Try the Michael Jackson; it has chocolate cake with cream cheese icing.
The driveway to the small parking lot is one-way, and the sign to this funky little bakery is so small, you may even miss it. But you will be in heaven when you eat their from-scratch goodies. Sugar Mama's specialty is their cupcakes, which have a perfect swirl of icing on top and have names such as James Brown and Marilyn Monroe. The cupcakes are smaller than those at other bakeries, but are the perfect size – you feel satisfied but not guilty. Sugar Mama’s has seasonal items, such as pumpkin cupcake with chocolate chips and cream cheese icing. They also have delicious cookies, bars, pies, and even frosting shots.
If you enjoy Italian ice cream, you will love Dolce Vita’s ever-changing gelato flavors. Around Halloween, they often offer festive flavors of gelato such as candy apple, Kit Kat, Oreo, and pumpkin pie. Other flavors they have featured are chocolate Guinness gelato and cinnamon roll gelato. You can choose from dozens of liqueurs and single malt scotches in addition to espresso and coffee. Dolce Vita also serves flavorful sorbets, sandwiches, and several desserts. Dolce Vita has free wifi for its customers in addition to frequent live music.
Inside this small Hyde Park bakery, you will find many students studying and professionals on their computers (thanks to the free wifi). There are also often locals sitting at the tables in front of their bakery, many with their dogs. It’s also popular because it is open until midnight every night. They offer sandwiches, panini, and every type of coffee drink imaginable. Quack’s desserts are phenomenal, and there are so many of them that it’s nearly impossible to leave with just one. There are cakes, tarts, cookies, cupcakes, bars, muffins, scones, tea breads, truffles, puff pastries, and more. I adore their chocolate chip cookies, the magic almond bar, and the chocolate ganache cake. They offer several vegan desserts.
Located at the steps of the Driskill Hotel, the 1886 Café & Bakery was previous the 1886 Lunchroom for 20 years. The Lunchroom was founded by the Heritage Society of Austin and called "Austin's socializing parlor.” It remains a popular gathering place and serves regional American foods. It is also recognized for its high-quality and fresh-baked pies, cakes, and pastries. Enjoy classics such as the Key Lime Pie, Texas Pecan Pie, Peach Cobbler, Banana Split, and the Hot Fudge Sundae. If you can handle rich desserts, try the Original 1886 Chocolate Cake, made from the same recipe the Heritage Society once used.
This award-winning, European-style bakery has been around for 15 years and is still family-owned and operated. They offer a great lunch menu for those who want some soup, salad, or sandwiches. They also offer excellent fresh-made bread (including challah), though you should really be coming here for the sweets. They offer every type of pastry imaginable, from cinnamon almond croissants to kiwi danishes to sausage puffs, in addition over a dozen flavors of cake and many varieties of cookies. Last time I went, I got a chocolate parfait that was unbelievably decadent.
11. Tèo1206 W. 38th St.
Tèo claims to have Austin’s only genuine cappuccino and the city’s best espresso and gelato. And it’s not just self-proclaimed – they have won awards for their gelato and desserts from the Austin Chronicle and City Search. They also have muffins, croissants, scones, tea bread, and cinnamon rolls from the Upper Crust Bakery.