Want to know why Backstreet Cafe has remained popular—and, more importantly, relevant—throughout its three-decade run in River Oaks? Aside from such obvious elements as great service, great food, and a pretty patio, it's this: a sense of whimsy that's remarkable at any restaurant, really, let alone at a restaurant that's over 30 years old. Backstreet Cafe walks a fine line between restrained, casual elegance and fun, which means I look forward to every meal at Backstreet as if it's a treasured first.
1103 S. Shepherd Dr.
I'm not unique in my love for Backstreet's brunch—the weekend meal is near legendary at this point, with crowds packing onto that brick-paved, oak-shaded patio in nearly every type of weather imaginable—and this remains my favorite time to visit, because it means it's early enough in the day for Backstreet's excellent egg dishes (current obsession: the spicy maple-glazed pork belly over grits with poached eggs) yet late enough for sommelier Sean Beck's clever cocktails (current obsession: Crime of Passion, with prosecco, gin, passionfruit nectar, lemon, sage, and St. Germain) and, of course, a slightly decadent dessert.
Backstreet Cafe recently introduced the ideal post-brunching dessert: a Nutella milkshake. Though you can obviously enjoy this any time of day, there's something about enjoying the breakfast spread made with hazelnuts and chocolate—which I first encountered on a trip to in Austria in the 1990s, spread on warm croissants in the mornings—in a light, frothy, and, yes, whimsical milkshake that makes it the perfect daycap (that's a nightcap during the day, sans alcohol—just go with it).
The Nutella milkshake is $12 and quite substantial; I recommend splitting it with a friend. And although this Saturday's weather calls for morning showers, Sunday looks to be perfect patio weather—so make your brunch reservation now. All that popularity and whimsy means Backstreet stays busy.