Even the macarons are an artistic expression at Honey Art Cafe.
Matcha-flavored frogs, lemon chicks and strawberry-lemonade bunnies are shaped like their animal counterparts and stand proud in the small cafe’s dessert case. Artmaking is on the menu, too.
It’s not required, but customers can add paint-kit rental, craftmaking and other projects to their dessert or tea order. DIY crafts line the walls to grab and take to a table. The cafe’s art classes, which are reserved online, are beginner-friendly and open to both kids and adults.
Huimiao Lin and Xinlu Fang opened Honey Art Cafe in 2017. Both Rice University graduates with double majors, Lin studied art and biochemistry, and Fang earned degrees in art and architecture.
The pair taught private art classes before opening their Montrose-adjacent cafe, which Fang calls “a fully immersive space.”
Vibrant floor-to-ceiling murals painted by Lin and Fang flank the chalkboard menu, divided into Craft and Eat sections.
Honey Art Cafe
Where: 3516 S. Shepherd; honeyartcafe.com
Details: Drop-in craft kits from $10. One-hour classes from $15. Children younger than 9 must be accompanied by an adult. Some classes open only to ages 13 and up; honeyartcafe.com/
After ordering a whimsical dessert — say, an eight-layer parfait or soft serve in a taco-shaped waffle cone — you can help yourself to a drop cloth to cover your table and head to the self-serve water dispensers — one for drinking and the other for paintbrush-dipping.
At the Terrarium Bar, customers start with a glass jar and layer in pebbles, charcoal, burlap, soil and moss, then water their masterpiece to take home.
“The whole idea was to make art a more daily habit for people, to introduce creativity into their daily lives,” Fang says, referencing how Starbucks made coffee a daily habit.
Lucky cats and coloring books
Both passionate home bakers, Fang, 30, and Lin, 29, created a simple menu of all-natural snacks, many of which have an “anime vibe,” Fang says.
Anime, in fact, is one of the more popular class offerings for kids. The next Anime Comic Making 101 class is Aug. 24.
Other classes focus on sketching, creative doodling, Anatomy 101 or painting a single item, such as puppies, the Eiffel Tower or a doughnut-shaped balloon.
Fang and Lin sometimes make themed desserts and drinks to complement the classes, including a triple-layered Unicorn Smoothie of banana, strawberry and blueberry.
“I think for kids, they really love to be able to express their creativity, and there’s not as much of a barrier to entry as there is for adults,” Fang says of the classes she and Lin teach.
For inspiration, walls are covered with completed art projects and mini galleries by local artists. The creature macarons and other inventive desserts may also influence projects, Fang says, including one with chocolate cake crumbles and matcha coconut flakes, served up “like a forest.”
“It’s really cool for them to see that they can improve pretty quickly due to practicing at home and attending regular classes,” Lin says of adolescent students. “They’ve found this new hobby they’re super interested in pursuing.”
Art on the go
Families who prefer a spontaneous outing over a reserved class can drop in to purchase DIY projects, including a wooden geometric necklace to paint, hanging plant projects, magnets, buttons and leather wallets.
“It’s an inexpensive way to go analog and leave your phone behind and spend some time creating something,” Fang says.
Sunni Baker took her two daughters, then 7 and 9, to Honey Art Cafe for an afternoon treat soon after it opened. The girls chose watercolor painting from the menu.
“It felt you could hang out there for a while; it’s wasn’t like anyone was going to rush you out,” Baker says.
What stands out most from the visit is the “really fun” cookies the girls ate while they painted. Baker says her daughters have both enjoyed taking regular art classes, but she likes the drop-in aspect that doesn’t require a long-term commitment.
What’s more, when they were finished painting, the girls left with their artwork, and “I didn’t have anything to clean up at home,” she laughs.
Allison Bagley is a Houston-based writer.