As I stepped inside Honey Art Cafe last Friday night, early for the first time in my life, I spotted this week’s carefully designed miniature unicorn macarons displayed in a glass case on the counter while patrons munched on artistically plated chocolate cake terrariums and macaron donut ice cream sandwiches (yes, you read that right), and sipped matcha lattes out of mason jars.

The menu is filled with painted images of Hong Kong egg waffles with ice cream, parfaits, and a rental watercolor paint set. The specialty board showcases an ever-changing array of character macarons, such as pugs, unicorns, and Totoros. I ordered a too-cute-to-eat honey bear macaron, then made my way through a narrow hallway, which displayed a sticker art show, to the back classroom for a two-hour watercoloring class.

Within minutes, you’ll find that food and art live harmoniously at Montrose's Honey Art Cafe.

When artist duo Amy Lin and Lulu Fang, also known as Lululin, opened the cafe in December 2016 after running Houston Art Lessons since 2012, they wanted to create a space where everyone—from professionals to budding artists to those who haven’t picked up a paintbrush since childhood—could engage with art.

“We imagined this place as a space that could facilitate everyone’s interaction to art to varying degrees,” Lin says. “Whether it’s just ‘I just want to eat food and I prefer to eat it in a place that’s pretty and has art on the walls,’ all the way to ‘I want to take classes’ or ‘I want to teach classes’ or ‘I want to show my art.’”

Lin and Fang picked menu items based on what they liked to eat. The Hong Kong egg waffles? Lin found them on Instagram, thought they looked like edible bubble wrap, and put them on the menu. The weekly rotation of character macarons? Lin used to make a couple of designs, but after noticing their popularity, she began to make more. They now have about 40 designs and counting.

Fang says when they first opened, they had some savory items on the menu, such as curry. But those items weren’t nearly as photogenic as their desserts and people wouldn’t order them as much, so she and Lin cut them.

“I think the setting inspires people’s sweet tooth,” Lin says.  

The desserts here, matched with the cafe’s clean minimalist wooden tables, modern white chairs and show-stopping, floor-to-ceiling pop-surrealist murals, is enough to make anyone’s inner foodie leap for joy and inspire even the most hapless with a paintbrush.

In addition to its whimsical aesthetic and Instagram-worthy menu, Honey Art Cafe features a small art gallery with rotating monthly shows and about a half-dozen $15 to $35 art classes each week, including several BYOB lessons on weekends. Most are project-based, such as the mini succulents watercoloring class I attended, but Lin says they teach the skills and techniques necessary for each project.

For Lin and Fang, the cafe is the culmination of collaboration and dreaming as business partners for five years and friends for more than a decade, but they are constantly looking for new ideas to enhance the food and classes, such as adding vegan ice cream and a DIY bar.

“I think something we’ve always been really passionate about, aside from food and art,” Fang says, “is just the idea of creating new opportunities that will bring the creative community together.”

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Honey Art Cafe

$ Café, Dessert 3516 South Shepherd Drive