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Empire Cafe in Houston - gotta try

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I travel to Houston at least once a month. I just started using this board to help my search in finding non-chain restaurants (there has to be a better term). So I thought I should add my cool little find to repay my debts of gratitude.

I did a search and found it mentioned a couple of times but not much written about the Empire Cafe (www.empirecafe.net) at 1732 Westheimer Rd. I have visited this place each time in my last six visits which is saying alot because I to find new place each time I travel.

What is it?
Coffee shop / cafe with Italian influence

So what's good?
Love the Iced Lattes with the free cookies. What kind are they? Where can I buy them? They are so good!
I've tried and loved...Italian Toast (think french toast), Focaccia Eggs and the Fresh Fruit Platter. The Breakfast Tacos were ok, sorta bland but the cheddar hash browns saved the plate.
I normally stop for breakfast but today went there for lunch. I had the daily salad special. Pretty good...turkey breast, jicama, roasted red peppers, tomatoes on mixed greens with a rosemary dressing. I made the mistake of ordering a slice of Hummingbird cake today. It was HUGE! Three layers and at least 5" wide. Why was it a mistake? It was so good I ate the whole thing...there goes my diet and the last two weeks of exercise? Out the window. But it was worth every gluttonous bite.

In my opinion...
Not high on the adventurous scale and just creative enough to be out of the ordinary. But everything is executed perfectly and consistently. And the service is always outstanding. Just wish they had WiFi.

I tried to not sound like a commercial but give it a try and I think you will find a new favorite. I would be curious to hear other's experiences local and out of town visitors alike.

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  1. the cakes at empire cafe are are what they are known for, even though they do not make them in house.

    their carrot cake is probably the most popular, but i find it to be middle of the road. they have a cake called "austin cream cake" that is unlike anything i have ever had. three layers of white cake with three layers of cream filling, but a topping of caramel, chocolate chips and coconut. it looks like they give the top a once over with a little blowtorch like a creme brulee or something. it is truly amazing.

    i can second the italian toast. i havent tried much else there, since it seems like whenever i go i just get a piece of cake and a glass of iced tea, dinner-be-damned

    1. Empire has been there forever. They became much more popular after they received their full liquor license.

      I like it as a cafe, but I hardly eat there or drink coffee there--I mostly go for the cake. The espresso based drinks are generally disappointing to me as they don't really know how to pull a shot. Drip coffee used to be a good deal, but I'm not sure if this is still the case. The "minestrone" soup which is purported to be vegan is usually pretty good. Some of their specials are good too.

      Don't forget that Monday is half-priced cake day--all day. The slices are usually a little smaller than other days, but it's still worth it. I think my favorite is the elusive Chocolate Italian Cream. Unfortunately they raised their regular price for cake so a slice on half priced cake day is almost 3.50 with tax.