Teo Equals Gelato, Latte and Belissimo

Teo Austin SignIt started when we spotted the sign on our way downtown. That enticing heart on the top of the cup. I immediately thought hot cocoa, my newest contributor said coffee (she was right, by the way.)  In either case, we knew we’d be making a stop on our way back home.

Vespa and Teo sign Austin

We pulled into the parking lot and I was immediately certain that this was NOT going to be a “we’ll try it later.” There, in front of the sign, was a bright red Vespa. La belle vita (the good life, Italian) was clearly calling us to take a break and leave the traffic battles on Mopac until later.

We walked past the inviting patio (yes, that is where we would enjoy our treats, of course!), and headed inside.

Teo Cafe Austin interiorThe bright cafe would be a wonderful retreat on a hot Austin day, but just as we planned, everyone else was sipping and eating outdoors on what was a wonderfully breezy and comfortable spring evening.

Gelato at Teo Austin

The cases were filled with tempting trays of gelato, including some dairy free and sugar free versions. But we immediately went for the chocolate.

Chocolate gelato at Teo AustinCan I use the word “orgasmic” on a family friendly blog? Oh, heck, I have to. Because it was. Every creamy spoonful was a perfect blend of chocolate, creamy, …. words just fail me. Trust me, it was that good!

latte at TeoAnd then there was the latte. Lance and I don’t drink coffee, so we had to bring on another contributor to handle those reviews. I know a lot of you here in Austin LOVE your coffee, so it’s only fair that we include the really good cups in our reviews.  (We’ll do a formal introduction soon, but for now, coffee-lovers, rest assured we now have you covered!)

Her comments? “OMG! This is the most incredibly creamy, rich coffee I have had in Austin.” I may have her add some more details later, but for now, I think that pretty much covers it. (I just liked the pretty designs on the top — but then again, I am easily amused!)

Cart on patio at Teo AustiNeedless to say, we will be back for more um, research and testing. Hey, it’s only fair! There were a lot of gelato flavors in that case. We wouldn’t want to miss something, now would we?

Gelato Cups at Teo in AustinThe Specs

26 Doors Shopping Center
1206 W. 38th St.
Austin, Texas 78705
512-451-9555
http://www.caffeteo.com/

Hours:
Mon – Thurs :: 7:00 am to 10:00 pm
Fri.: 7:00 am to midnight
Sat: 8:00 am to midnight
Sun.: 8:30 am to 10:00 pm

Patio is dog-friendly

Teo on Urbanspoon

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Newest La Madeleine teams up with the Children’s Hunger Fund

 

La Madeleine Cedar Park Texas

Cedar Park’s newest gathering place

Bright and early tomorrow morning (before I will be awake!), one of the newest La Madeleine cafés will open in Cedar Park, just north of Austin.  But before the first galette or croissant will be rung into the register, they were already busing hosting a VIP party to introduce the new location. And yes, I got to be on hand for the festivities, from the samples and speeches, to the ribbon cutting. (Oh the perks of being a food and events blogger!)

Corporate and local management

Ribbon cutting at La Madeleine  Cedar Park Texas

And the ribbon is cut!

The official ribbon

Guests were invited to sign the ribbon…look for the Ais4Austin signature when you visit the cafe!

The event doubled as a fund-raiser for one of the company’s favorite charities, the Children’s Hunger Fund. This organization provides food for children who might otherwise not eat, especially when school isn’t in session (more about them in a another post soon!)  Guests were generous — all told, the event plus two training previews earlier in the week raised over $5,000 for the group — it’s wonderful to think how many hungry tummies that money will fill!

Childrens Hunger Fund

The café was crowded for the VIP party, as bloggers, staff families and local dignitaries talked with La Madeleine corporate leaders.

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Of course we all got to sample the café’s signature wares, from soup to dessert.2014-04-02 19.09.05

Two talented harpists from nearby Westwood High School provided musical accompaniment to the eventing, while cheer leaders from Cedar Park High School helped out with the charity ticket sales and donation collection. Miss San Antonio was also on hand to great guests, while outside of the store, Jollyville Volunteer Fire Company invited guests to explore a 1952 fire truck (loved that!)

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So what does this have to do with Texas? 

I do try to keep this blog focused on Texas businesses…especially those based around Austin. And this is no exception. La Madeleine, America’s favorite French café, was conceived and launched right here in Texas!

It started with Patrick Leon Esquerré, a French immigrant from the Loire Valley of France who moved to Texas.  He soon discovered that there was nothing in his adopted city of Dallas that matched his memories of relaxing coffee houses and cafés. So he decided to re-create what he missed — but with an American twist.

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To get that all-American spin, Esquerré asked Dallas women what they would expect in a French café. From the wooden beamed ceiling and the fireplace to the crusty bread, he listened.The result? A comfortable place that blends memories of the French countryside with Dallas, Texas style.

I won’t be there tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. when the doors open. But I know it won’t be long until I visit again, order an iced tea and a salad and find a spot near the fireplace to relax for a bit. It may not be France…but it’s Texas-style France. And for the Austin area, that’s just perfect.

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Jo’s is so much more than just coffee

Jo's Coffee House Austin TexasYou know you’ve found one of Jo’s two Austin locations when you spot the iconic red balloon sign.  But what you might not know is that even a non-coffee drinker like me can find at least a dozen delicious reasons to make a stop every time the sign comes into view.

Let’s start with Jo’s on West 2nd Street.  We found this place when we were hungry and tired after checking out all the booths at Barkitecture.  The menus at most of the restaurants in the area were kind of pricy for a family, or didn’t offer much for vegetarians. And then there was the matter of our dog.  So we wandered until we saw Jo’s and checked out their menu.

Sure, there were pastries…and of course, coffee.  But it was more.  It was burgers and hot dogs with all the fixings and then some…and vegetarian versions of both. Ditto for the bar-b-que — meat and vegetarian versions to suit every taste.  Griddled 3-cheese sandwiches and equally griddled eggplant sandwiches — and yes, that is spelled correctly. This was real food, delicious food even — at a coffee house!  We feasted!  And the dog-friendly outdoor dining meant our pup did, too.

Later, we found the second location on South Congress. Smaller menu by a bit, but equally tasty options. Another dog-friendly patio, but this one with live music on Sunday mornings and some evenings, too.  And right there amid the fun of SoCo.

Book People is part bookstore, part destination

 Book People Austin Texas at A is 4 Austin

Bookstores used to have personality. There were some where I could browse for hours, others where I would pop in to grab that hard-to-find book no one else carried. Then came Borders and Barnes & Noble, and bookstores became vanilla. The same in Seattle as in Austin, indistinguishable in Maine and Miami.

Thank goodness there are a few holdouts. Powells in Portland, Tattered Cover, and Faulker House Books in New Orleans. And here in Austin, it’s Book People.

Part book store, part coffee house. Part new age store, part novelty shop. Part venue for meeting writers like Charlaine Harris and part the perfect place to get your kids excited about reading.

Book People has great hours, amazing bibliophiles on staff, and (gasp!) free parking!

Easy date night at the Domain

The Domain in Austin Texas

There aren’t a lot of places that offer a date night option from pricey to darn near free all in one location, but we discovered that the Domain is pretty much on target for both.

For those of you who don’t know, the Domain is a large outdoor shopping area in North Austin.  It’s part of a multi-use community that includes the shops, several residence options, a couple of hotels and even a boutique-sized Fiat dealer.

We wandered around the shop area, stopping at the Apple Store to play with their newest toys, checking out shops for clothes we liked (and clothes that made us both laugh!)  A quick stop at Starbucks or the Steeping Room for a snack, and then some time spent sitting in the rocking chairs outside talking and enjoying the evening breeze. (When the weather is cooler, there’s even an outdoor fireplace to add another bit of romance to the evening. )

Of course, we had to take our turn climbing on the giant armadillo — hey, the kids were all gone, so we had it to ourselves!  Then some more window shopping, this time looking at things for our house (or a house of dreams.) There’s also a Dick’s Sporting Goods, so you can wander in there and plan your next outdoor adventure together.

If dinner is part of the plan, the evening at the Domain could get expensive.  There are so many yummy restaurants there, all a short stroll away, including California Pizza Kitchen, Kona Grill, Maggiano and Cru. The hard part isn’t finding a place to eat here….it’s choosing just one!

If the budget is even more generous, there is a iPic movie theatre there too. But this isn’t just any old movie theatre — the tickets range from $19 to $29 per person.  The theatre pampers movie-goers with blankets and pillows, personal wait staff, a cocktail lounge and access to a gourmet menu if you want to dine while you watch.  Yes, this is where the Domain date night can add up!

Most stores are open until about 8 or 9 pm every night except Sunday, but the restaurants stay open later and the area is very well lit, so it’s fun to wander around even after the shops close.

There was only one thing missing from the Domain — music.  In the city that bills itself as the “Music Capitol”, it was strange that not a guitar or violin or anything was heard.  This would be a perfect place for some live music! Add that into the mix, and this would be an even better date night choice.

The Domain, like so much of Austin is pet-friendly. And they mean it here. Water bowls were in front of most shops, and some welcomed well-behaved pets inside to shop. Looking back, I think more people had dogs with them than did not!  (It’s also kid-friendly, but hey, this is about date night!) Parking is free and is easy to find in and around the shopping area. 

Cupprimo Stands for Cupcakes, Coffee and Coziness

Cupprimo Cupcakes and Coffee in Austin

It wasn’t that long ago that cupcakes were limited to to baby showers and classroom birthday parties.

Now that cupcakes are hot (pardon the pun), it seems like every other strip mall and street has a shop offering some version of the cupcake.  Some are just passable, with a taste and texture you would expect from the plastic-encased grocery store variety.  And some are worth breaking your diet for.

Cupprimo Cupcakes and Coffee is definitely in the latter category. This little shop located in a slightly rundown  Northwest Austin strip mall dominated by Asian and Indian groceries and restaurants is a tiny oasis of warm welcomes and sweet options. Everything from the wood tables to the family-photos-turned-art on the walls (from local studio Natural Impressions Photography) invite you to sit down for a bit and savor your choices. Owner Amy Brown and her welcoming staff will treat you more like friends than customers…which is probably why so many people head back to Cupprimo again and again.

My daughter is partial to the Snickerdoodle cupcakes…and yes, they do taste just like the classic cookie!  That’s except when she decides on the Smores cupcakes, complete with a fluffy marshmallow frosting, chocolate garnish and rich graham cracker taste.  Or maybe the Italian Cream. With 150 flavors to choose from, we have clearly just scratched the surface of possible choices.

Other plus for Cupprimo:  they offer a daily gluten-free cupcake, and usually have some “neked” cupcakes on hand (sans frosting) for those of us who like our treats a little less sweet. Most evenings they’re open until 9, so consider stopping by for dessert or an after the movies treat.