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Find near-perfect iced shortbread at Paulie's.

So, I love cookies. Like, I really love cookies. My favorite is the black-and-white cookie. That said, nobody makes this cookie correctly south of the Mason Dixon line—even Kenny & Ziggy’s, Katz’s and other "Yankee" spots around town don't satisfy me. So what’s a girl to do without her favorite cookie? Well this girl went out on a cookie quest and ate a whole lot of cookies to find some holiday alternatives to hold me over till my next trip back East.

The first destination in the tasting trip was Epicure Café. If you shop on the stretch of West Gray in River Oaks, you are likely familiar with this little gem right near the movie theater. It’s an adorable little café that serves fantastic gelato and has a phenomenal cookie selection. Among cookies, highlights include checkerboards (for when you can’t decide on chocolate or vanilla), all different kinds of Linzers and lady fingers. Pro tip: Eat your cookies first and take your salad to go.

Most Houstonians are familiar with Paulie’s in Montrose and the Petronella family that runs it. Years ago, for a birthday, I asked the staff at Paulie’s to make shortbread cookies in the shape of New Jersey with a little star for my exit on the Garden State Parkway. They did not disappoint. While they do make other cookies such as chocolate chip and peanut butter, the shortbread is their claim to fame. It is very easy to overdo a frosted shortbread cookie; each element needs to meld in just the right combination so the cookie isn't too sweet or too dry. Paulie's always gets it right. There is almost always shortbread on hand, but you can also custom order them for any occasion. 

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Show some Houston love with the help of Yalla Sweets.

What cookie trip would be complete without a trip to a store all about cookies? Enter Michael’s Cookie Jar. His best bets are the fancy tea cookies. The Butter Twist and raspberry Linzers are excellent, too. Going into a whole store dedicated to cookies can be daunting, but if you want to really try to satisfy your craving, it is hard to not find what you desire here. 

A good quest is nothing without an off-the-beaten-path wildcard. For that, there is Yalla Sweets. Founded by native Houstonian Brigitte Zabak, this home-based baking business opens up a whole new world to the cookie aficionado. The true test of a good baker or chef is to ask them to make their least complex dish, so I asked for a batch of their good ole sugar cookies. Brigitte uses her own secret recipe (I tried to get her drunk, but she wouldn't tell me) and her sugar cookies come in all shapes and sizes, even Texas-shaped ones. I brought her batch to work with me and they were gone within hours — I ate a dozen myself. 

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