Husband-wife duo Ifel and Yasmina Costa have been sharing the Parisian culture with The Woodlands area through their restaurant,La Francesita Gourmet Bakery Cafe, since 2009.
La Francesita is not the first bakery business owned by the Costas, who are originally from Paris. The couple said they owned bakeries in Australia and Canada prior to moving to The Woodlands.
“We’ve traveled a lot, but [baking]is what we’ve always done,” Yasmina said. “So that’s why we decided to open La Francesita when we came to the United States.”
Located on Woodlands Parkway, straddling the border between The Woodlands and Magnolia, La Francesita first opened in March 2009. The Costas run the cafe with help from their daughter, Clara, and her fiance, Leon Arki. The bakery offers authentic Parisian pastries, including croissants, palmiers, galettes, tarts and French breads, all baked fresh every day.
The eatery offers all-day breakfast—featuring a variety of omelets, French toast, crepes and eggs Benedict—in addition to pastries.
“We also do coffee; so we do cappuccinos, iced lattes—every kind of coffee you can think of we do here,” Costa said. “Our coffee is organic … [and]comes from Peru, and our espresso is really good, too. We also have hot and iced teas.”
La Francesita’s menu includes savory croissant sandwiches, panini on freshly baked bread, and seasonal salads and soups for lunch offerings.
“We’re more of a cafe than a bakery now, just because we’ve adapted to what people want,” Costa said. “So now we have more savory items, but we still do our own croissants, our own bread—everything is made in-house here.”
Yasmina said one of her family’s favorite things about owning their own business has been getting to know their regular patrons and watching other families grow.
“The people who come to the shop have started to feel like family, too,” she said. “We’ll talk and get to know them, so we’ve known people now for a long time. We’ve seen their kids from when they were 6 and now they’re 16, and it’s like, ‘Wow.’ We just love getting to know our patrons.”
Costa said while there is more competition in The Woodlands than there was when they first opened nearly a decade ago, La Francesita has continued to grow in popularity due to its authentic Parisian ties.
“We’re from France, so it’s very authentic Parisian food … we use really high-quality ingredients, which really makes a difference,” Costa said. “And when people come here, it’s not formal. I think people like that—they feel more comfortable, and they feel like family here.”
The French Confection
The following are just a few of the European classics patrons can find at La Francesita Gourmet Bakery Cafe.
- Crepes: Thinner than traditional pancakes, this French classic can be folded or rolled with sweet or savory fillings and toppings.
- Croissants: Yeasted dough layered with butter creates a light, airy and crisp texture.
- Galettes: Similar to a classic pie or tart, this flaky crust folds over the top of the sweet or savory dish.
- Palmiers: These flat, crispy French pastries are also known as “elephant ears” for their unique shape.
9950 Woodlands Parkway, Ste. 400, The Woodlands
Hours: Wed.-Mon. 8 a.m.-3 p.m., closed Tuesday