Ever since Yasmina and Ifel Costa, wife and husband duo, moved to The Woodlands over ten years ago, our Texan town has been graced with a taste of the Parisian joie de vivre. La Francesita Gourmet Bakery, the Costa family’s patisserie, has been serving the most authentic French pastries baked fresh daily since March of 2009 in the Village of Sterling Ridge.
With the help of their daughter Clara and her fiancé Leon, Madame and Monsieur Costa have carved out a little spot of their own and filled it with all things Paris and it’s obvious right as you walk in, as the sage-green walls are charmingly lit up by the royal blue-colored wall lamps and a sea of woven chairs and small café-style tables effortlessly brightens the scene. An intricate Fleur-de-lis wallpaper lines the walls above the pastry case, and a number of paintings, hand-painted murals, and French posters cover the rest of the café. One can only break this dreamscape sight’s trance with the sweet and savoury scents of their specially-made eats.
Of the several times I have visited La Francesita (for journalistic research purposes only, of course), I have tried a variety of menu items to bring to you only the best of the best — or shall we say, the crème de la crème.
On the first visit, it felt right to try the Parisian classic known as the croque madame, a sandwich made with Black Forest ham, provolone and parmesan, bechamel, fried egg on top, and hollandaise sauce. Though I have recently converted to pescatarianism (fish-only diet), I decided to make an exception for Monsieur Costa’s Black Forest ham and I did not regret it. And for the fair price of $11.90, you can experience the same explosion of flavor I did.
On the second visit, I had the Galette Three, a savoury crepe with mozzarella, feta, sundried tomato pesto, basil pesto, and spinach. There is not another on this earth who loves pesto as much as I do, so this galette was my absolute favorite. If you happen to be feeling quite hungry, I would definitely recommend ordering a galette: it was so huge that it covered my entire dinner-sized plate. The thin and crunchy dough was perfectly browned, and inside it was hidden the most mouth-watering combination of Southern European flavors I have ever tasted, priced at only $12.20.
On the latest visit, I decided to try another classic Parisian taste: the sweet crepe. With a grand dollop of Nutella and a garden-like arrangement of rosy-red strawberries, covered by a thin layer of powdered sugar, there is no better dessert in this world. Upon the first bite I was immediately transported to the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and in this reverie I stayed for the rest of the day. This magical trip will only set you back $9.50, way quicker, cheaper, and safer than a plane ticket to Paris.
At the cashier normally waits the marvelous Madame Yasmina, accompanied by her daughter, Madame Clara, with Monsieur Ifel in the kitchen preparing the array of Parisian delights, which all goes to show how much of a small, family-run business this café really is. And the service they provide is extraordinary. Upon taking your order, Madame Yasmina will hand you a number stand, which will let them know where to bring the food once it is ready. The latest time I was there, I had the honor of having the chef himself bring out the food to us. If I had to use one word to describe this café, it would have to be “genuine:” genuine food, genuine service, genuine quality, and a genuine ambiance.
La Francesita is open every day except Tuesday from 8:00am to 3:00pm, so for fellow students like me (without early release or late arrival), the weekend is the perfect time to stop by this petit pocket of Paris. And if you would like one of their seasonal fresh-baked pastries, do arrive as early as you can, they sell out extremely quickly. Bon Appétit!