I have learnt never to expect to have a good hot chocolate when I go out in Houston. There are few surprises, as they are on the whole really not that great. But if there is anywhere where I would expect to find a good hot chocolate it would be Rice Village. There are quite a few options in this area. Mercantile has a decent hot chocolate, a new Italian café called Fellini does a thick hot chocolate (review coming soon). Then of course there is the ever popular Chocolate Bar that makes a hot chocolate for serious sweet tooth chocolate lovers. I’m still testing out new places but my current choice in the neighbourhood is definitely the hot chocolate at Sweet Paris Creperie & Cafe.
Sweet Paris is narrow inside, but first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive, it is calm and empty. It has a cheerful feel to it, filled with cheesy Parisian accents (lots of Eiffel Towers everywhere). It should come as no surprise that they make only one thing; crepes. Pick your filling and they will put it in a crepe. It doesn’t look or taste quite like any crepe in Paris would, it is the Texan version after all. But we enjoyed our breakfast crepe none the less. The highlight though of course was the hot chocolate. It was a Mexican style hot chocolate, spiced heavily with cinnamon and I enjoyed every last sip of it.
Sweet Paris, the brain child of two young local entrepreneurs, also has a serious social mission side to it. They donate a school meal to a child in need for every crepe sold through the World Food Program in the USA and have already donated over 70,000 meals. At their second location in Vallarta Mexico they have partnered with a local organization that helps develop academic skills in under-served children. A board next to the front door outlines other charitable deeds that they are involved in as well as updates on each.
Rice village is just across the street from Rice University, a gorgeous university which is well worth a walk around. Fifty buildings are spread across an area that is not only heavily wooded but easy to walk around Nearly every building on campus is Byzantine in style with sand and pink coloured bricks, the reason why it was listed by Travel+Leisure magazine as one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. Back over in Rice village you will find dozens of stores to browse through after filling your stomach at Sweet Paris. There are the usual big brands but also a large array of independent brands and unique stores selling both clothing, lots of great things for babies and kids, even more incredible restaurants, a bit of everything really. My favourite, Cloud 10, is an incredible icecream spot created by award winning Pastry Chef Chris Leung which features a regularly changing array of innovative seasonal flavours such as dule de leche chamomile, roasted yellow beets with red beet jam, valhrona chocolate with figs and poached pear sorbet. It still amazes me that he doesn’t regularly have lines going around the block. Incredible.
Verdict: A surprisingly tasty hot chocolate. Highly recommend as part of a walk around Rice Village. Sweet Paris Creperie & Cafe, Rice Village, Houston, Texas