“Booze ’n’ baked goods” easily sums up the offerings at Red Dessert Dive but that brief description does a gross disservice to the imaginative and diverse solid and liquid offerings at this Heights bakery and cafe. The brainchild of Jessica Lusk of (now closed Stella Bakes), Red Dessert Dive also features a rotating menu of confections designed with help from Hotel Zaza’s pastry chef, Ashely Leonard. Small details such as clothing-pin labels, chandeliers, and chairs stamped with a cursive “R” also demonstrate Red Dessert Dive is not your cookie-cutter (pun intended) coffee shop.
Because, speaking of cookies, take the debüsker, an addictive crispy M&M cookie-soft brownie hybrid that makes you conclude such treats should always be served in (literal) conjunction. There’s also a terrific pistachio cupcake often available that should not be dismissed despite its “gluten-free.” More conventional treats include cheesecake squares topped with fresh strawberries or nuts and caramel, which, I swear, have perhaps the thickest crumb crusts in town. Many also favor the banana pudding—hardly the stuff of geriatric cafeterias but rather an ultra-creamy confection stacked with buttery vanilla wafers and chunks of fresh banana.
Stars of the “Morning Goods” section are the sweet and salty butterscotch scone and the signature chive, cream cheese, and bacon kolache have dessert for breakfast. But heck, don’t limit yourself to these treats just because it’s 8:42am and order the strawberry cupcake with your morning latte; what are cupcakes but dressed up muffins?
Drink selection comprises a standard but well-executed menu of standard coffee drinks plus different kinds of ‘hard stuff’: beer and wine, which means you can pair your chocolate cake with an IPA. Edible booze is also available in the form RDD’s Karbach Beer Cheese bread. These moist, fragrant squares loaded with bacon and smoked gouda further prove that Red Dessert Dive excels at the savory as well as the sweet.
With free wifi, ample seating, and caffeine, Red Dessert Dive is, in theory, a great place to get some work done, but if you indulge your sweet tooth too liberally, you’re likely to conk out on your computer in a sugar coma. And given that they’re open until 10pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, there’s no reason why you can’t pop in long after you clock out for a post-happy hour dessert.
It’s the Heights so prices are, um, high; expect to pay $3.50 per cookie and brownies and a bit more ($4-6) for fancier fare. The quality almost always justifies such prices as well as subtly prevents those baked good binges to which we’re all susceptible.
Red Dessert Dive & Coffee Shop
1045 Studewood St
Houston, TX 77008