The French Riviera Bakery epitomizes Houston in so many ways: a Vietnamese-owned bakery, staffed by Mexicans, hailed by local Venezuelans and Argentineans to be from there, magically churning out authentic French goods far beyond the quality that should ever be expected from a strip mall. I love you, Houston.
Their croissants, hailed by many as the best in town, are exquisitely French, characterized by the alluring puff you get as your mouth dives into their butter layers. Only achieved by the meticulous folding of butter into the dough layer upon layer, this is truly a thing to be appreciated. In a world of dense and doughy croissants, French Riviera perpetuates the art of flaky. I suggest ordering their croissants as a sandwich, layered with generous servings of ham and cheese and then lightly toasted. If breakfast or dessert are more your interest, then indulge in an almond croissant for a rich, almond paste filled treat that tastes nothing like the almond extract flavored imitations you have likely had around town before. They are rich, but the espresso bar is well prepared to help you take in the sweetness interspersed with the perfect pairing of sips of bitter espresso.
Ambiance is not the attraction but the inside café is cozy enough. The location does allow for far more affordable prices. Just don’t expect it to feel anything like the actual Riviera. That sensation is solely reserved for when you close your eyes, take in a bit and let your other senses take over.
Pros: authentic croissants
Cons: its still a strip mall off Chimney Rock