Houston >Food & Dining > Empire Cafe
1732 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX | Directions 7709829.742755 -95.403705
Mon. - Thu., Sun. 7:30am - 10pm;Fri. - Sat. 7:30am - 11pm
Neighborhoods: Central, Neartown/ Montrose
Great coffee (it comes with cookies!) and the lunch sandwiches are an excellent deal- comes with a house salad for under $9. Ample parking which is rare in Montrose.
POOR AND ARROGANT CUSTOMER SERVICE
Dined here on the morning of 16 March 2013. The cashier shortchanged my wife $5, and then the manager, backed up by the cashier, insisted that we must have made a mistake, because they "don't make mistakes." My wife only had a $20 and $10 in her purse before we ordered. She now has $3.57 left in her purse from a $21.43 bill. The cashier insisted my wife gave her $25, even though you can see that this is not possible. I'm more irritated that the manager insulted my integrity and intelligence over $5 than the money itself (though I'm also incensed that a restaurant stole from me). Good food is no excuse for you to treat your customers like they should be thankful that you deign to serve someone whom you obviously think is so far beneath you. Empire Cafe has permanently lost our business over their arrogance in dealing with what should have been a trivial matter, and I will make sure that their arrogance costs them the business of the considerable number of friends we have that frequent their restaurant.
Dessert Only – They improved their patio with sturdier shade and a wall barricading diners from Westheimer. It's still a nice place to bring your pup and watch the antique shoppers. Always watch your purse here...a few summers ago, I heard about two purse snatchings. I'm sure the new wall has helped deter crime.
I had a small pizza ($9) that tasted like it was made on flatbread and not crispy or crunchy. It reminded me of school cafeteria pizza. It was loaded with cheese and fresh sauce but had very little meat. My sister had the chicken caesar salad and didn't finish the whole thing. We graded the food a C.
She had a chocolate coffee dessert drink served with sugar cookies...that was the best thing we had. Grade: A
The Montrose Experience – It doesn’t get much more Montrose than this. Laid back, quirky and endearing, Empire draws a faithful crowd of neighborhood regulars that are sure to be served up by playfully amiable staff. Rest assured that you may hammer away at your laptop for hours with nothing but a smile from staff and fellow patrons. No one will rush you through your coffee here. Even the patio is made comfortable for lingering as they bring out large outside air conditioning units during the more intolerable days of summer.
Their espresso bar is consistent and reasonably priced. While drinks are not creative or overly exotic, they are brewed right and cost no more than your average chain. If you have someone to share it with, I suggest trying one of their massive slices of cake. These slabs of sweet decadence are sure to please anyone but impossible to finish on your own. I’ve tried both the carrot cake and the chocolate blackout. While the frosting on the chocolate is a tad too sweet for my bitter dark loving taste buds I am sure that it would suit most people and the carrot cake is superbly spiced with ample cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with just the right amount of cream cheese icing.
I have not yet tried their savory dishes but they offer a diverse menu of entrees and everything I have seen on the tables including paninis oozing with cheese and brightly colored salads looked delicious and appeared to be polished off with eager enthusiasm. After a day of shopping the eclectic resale boutiques that dot the Montrose-Westheimer strip, Empire is the ideal place to rest your feet and reward your frugality with a pastry that is sure to prevent you from buying any more clothes.
Cozy coffee shop – I come to this coffee shop alot and recommend my friends and coworkers to come here as well. I love their coffees, desserts, food, ....basically all their food is delicious. Its cozy and comfortable there, their prices on their food is not too bad although their slices of cakes are quite pricey....its around $7 per slice! The bus boys are very quick and friendly. MOST of the staff that works the register is nice...but at times they are not as friendly/nice. There is one short chubby white guy in particular that works there that is always RUDE to me and my friends. We would come there at different times and he would treat all this customers the same way. He is mean, unfriendly and never ever smiles to customers that come there. The ambiance of the place and the tasty foods keeps me coming back but that one guy does not need to be working there if he hates his job or hates being around people. Maybe he would be in a better mood if he treats people better and in return they will treat him better. Overall I do love this place besides the rudeness of that one guy. Overall everyone treats me decent in there and is never really rude to me. Customer service is pretty fast and decent. Food and coffee there is excellent. Parking is not bad...always can find a decent parking space there. Oh yeah one of the cons there is the LONG lines that form to order. Since there is only 1 or 2 cashiers there it does take a while to get to you. Sometimes you get lucky and the line isnt too bad or sometimes there no lines at all. The amount of people coming in and out of this place.... shows that its a good place to dine or hang out at. I love being outside during the spring weather...its really nice there.
Eat somewhere else if you have the option – I've eaten at Empire Cafe several times and was never pleased with my experience. The last time I was there my food came 20 minutes after my boyfriend's , and I had to ask for my plate from the rude cashier. Apparently my plate was sitting under the lamps for a while and the cashier/waitress wasn't apologetic at all. If anyone is scared of birds like me, this also isn't the best place for you to eat because they are swooping down and flying around all over the place. If you have the option, go somewhere else to eat !!!
Average food, poor service, great ambiance – My husband and I were looking for a new breakfast spot. We went on a Saturday morning and were lucky that there was no line to order. However, the staff was extremely harried and rushed us to look at the menu and place our order. The food came within a reasonable amount of time, but was merely average. My husband had the eggs benedict and I had the gingerbread waffle. The eggs were over poached (coddled?) and the hash browns were cold. The fruit on my waffle was a little past its prime (gave up on a few pieces and pushed them to the side) and the waffle itself was not even warm. The only redeeming quality was the atmosphere; the people-watching was fantastic! The patio was also nice (semi-covered with ceiling fans). To compare it to another place in the same price range, the food at Le Peep is much better.
Great brunch spot – We did brunch with the Italian toast, mimosas, and a couple coffees. The food, drink, and ambience were great. The line was quite long but it went very quickly (the line was out the door, however we were able to place our order within 10 minutes). Moreover, the food was delivered rapidly.
Empire has a very eclectic mix of people; everyone from your young professionals, to the local tattooed hipsters, as well as mom and daughter stopping in after church. Definitely worth a visit.
These people can make a drink! – I adore Empire Cafe. I've been going there at least every other day for the past 6 years. The management & staff are awesome, as well as the food & drink. I've never had a bad time at Empire.
Houston classic – This place seems to age like wine. I have been coming to this place for around 10 years and each time I'm there I wish I could go there more often. They have great friendly staff, delicious food with huge portions whether it's for brunch, lunch, or dinner; they have coffee/tea/pastry and other coffee shop goodies, and also wine and beer. They also have a nice little courtyard on the side (which took me a few years to find!) What else could you possibly want?? Free parking? well, they've always had free parking but in the last year or so I noticed they opened up a new parking lot next door where a house used to be AND I even see a security guard (at least he looked like one...i'm not falling for the wallet inspector scam again).
Just drive around in the area and see how many places have even 1 free parking spot that's not the street? Another "Cafe" down the street has none. If you go to midtown you won't find any, so to me this shows the owners actually cafe about their customers and that's why they get such good reviews. This is definitely not starbucks. it's a "going to have fun and not worry about work" kind of coffee shop.
Good pasta, delicious cakes, strong mojitos...nice afternoon hangout – Empire Cafe is my favorite place to go for a steaming bowl of pasta (I recommend the Fiorenza, the chicken and broccoli with linguini tossed in a creamy garlic sauce), a delicious Caesar salad and a big slice of carrot cake. Despite the horrible art (the artist should really study up on female anatomy), the ambience is especially nice on a weekday afternoon before rush hour. Study the menu (they are usually scattered around the counter or register) and don't be shy about ordering a delicious mojito...but be careful, they are strong! :)
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