Among all the wonderful Chinese and Taiwanese-style bakeries in Asiatown, one stands out from all the rest: 85°C Bakery Cafe. From the minute the Taiwanese import opened its doors on Bellaire Boulevard last summer, debuting its 1,000th location worldwide, we were smitten. Here’s five reasons we’re obsessed with the place.
The coffee is perfection
Did you know that 85°C actually stands for the temperature of the coffee? The company maintains that keeping it steady at this temperature makes for the best flavor, and it’s right: Rich and fragrant, made with Guatemalan beans, it’s fantastic. For the purest flavor, try the original 85°C coffee, a simply brewed cup of joe served with creamer. But beware: The Iced Sea Salt Coffee, topped with a thick layer of sea-salt-infused whipped-cream foam, is highly addictive.
Dozens of selections, baked every hour
Nothing is more gratifying than browsing the bakery’s 50-plus, often strange-sounding, generally wonderful items—squid-ink-corn-chicken bread, calamari stick, taro swirl, and much more—and then hearing someone cry out, “Fresh bread! Fresh baked bread!” The hot-from-the-oven selections go really fast, so if something looks good, especially milk buns or custard tarts, don’t hesitate. People have been known to buy dozens of these at a time, clearing them out right as they hit the shelves.
Walk into a pastry shop anywhere outside of Asiatown, and it’ll cost you upward of $5 to try just one thing. Here, however, you get consistent, high-quality treats for a fraction of that price, with most items ringing in somewhere between $1.50 and $2.50. Talk about affordable luxury!
The Portuguese custard tarts
These are not only just $1.85 a pop, they’re also one of the best pastries in Houston. Each flaky shell tastes like a butter croissant, while the caramelized custard inside is as smooth as crème brûlée but lighter and fluffier. Snag them when they’re coming out of the kitchen, or pop them in a toaster oven. Molten-hot, they’re impossible to beat.
Unlike the majority of other, tiny bakeries in the area, Asiatown’s 85°C, designed to be Houston’s flagship, occupies a huge (5,886-square-foot) space. Floor-to-ceiling windows give a great view of the hubbub within, while the plethora of seating makes this the perfect destination for patrons who want to enjoy their goodies on site.