Welcome to the seventh part of a series where we showcase the noteworthy food and drink experiences of a very weird year. In the spirit of the holidays, it's also a very special collaboration between the food writers of the Houston Press and Houston Food Finder, the online publication founded by former Houston Press restaurant critic and food editor Phaedra Cook. This seventh edition covers some of our writers' favorite delivery and to-go experiences. Part eight will cover cocktails and spirits.
In March, when restaurant dining rooms were closed to help fight the spread of coronavirus, many establishments shifted to delivery. Some used third-party apps, others opted to employ their staff for direct delivery (and some did both). Since delivery options were often limited by distance, it was difficult to sample many of the diverse options Houston offers, but here are a few of our favorites.
Bravery Chef Hall, 409 Travis: When the COVID-19 closures hit, this well-appointed food hall quickly pivoted to direct delivery by its own employees, offering a diverse array of cuisines from its eight food stands. Customers can mix-and-match modern Vietnamese from Christine Ha's The Blind Goat with Cherry Block Craft Butcher + Kitchen's decadent CB Burger or Kokoro's well-executed sushi with a bowl of BOH's housemade pasta and beef empanadas from David Guerrero's Andes Café (or all of the above). There are options for everyone, and the food arrives promptly. Curbside pickup and dine-in are also available.
Click Virtual Food Hall, 4901 Rose: Helmed by chef and Kata Robata-alum Gabe Medina, this ghost kitchen was offering delivery in the before-times. Now, its delivery is a comforting go-to in this age of limited dine-in. With ten virtual “restaurants” — including collaborations with burger-chan and Ninja Ramen — operating out of one blue bungalow, there are delicious dishes to suit just about any palate, which is particularly useful for families.
Phat Kitchen, 2616 Blodgett: Combining favorites from Katy's Phat Eatery, Alex Au-Yeung's Malaysian restaurant, with soon-to-be favorites from YELO, Cuc Lam's forthcoming bricks-and-mortar bánh mì shop, Phat Kitchen is offering inside-the-Loop residents the chefs' acclaimed dishes for delivery and takeout. Order the piquant and crunchy Char Siu Xiu Mai Bánh Mí, the warming Chicken Curry Noodle Soup and a hearty Beef Rendang Roti Taco, then prepare to enjoy a much-deserved feast in the comfort of your own home. — David Leftwich, associate editor, Houston Food Finder
Favorite Family Meal To Go
Takeout may have been a necessity this year, but it wasn’t always affordable, especially for families. For those who didn’t have the option of cooking everyday, some Houston restaurants came up with creative ways to provide homey, everyday takeout meals for less.
Kim Son, 10603 Bellaire: With 37,000 square foot of restaurant and event space at the Bellaire location alone (Kim Son has three locations), rent to pay and employees to take care of, restaurateur Tao La didn’t just have expenses to consider, but also the employees whose families depended on him. So he devised a way to keep his staff employed and Houston-area families fed, introducing a take-out-only “Simple Family Dinner” for four, priced at an incredibly reasonable $28. To give people variety, as well as a reason to order each day, he posted a new menu every Sunday for each day of the following week. Some days there was bo luc lac, or shaking beef, as the main, with goi tom thit salad with pork and shrimp, a stir-fried vegetable and maybe a soup. Sundays were roll days — spring rolls, sausage rolls, skewers and finger foods. Offered from the beginning of lockdown until mid-November, the Simple Family Dinner, while it lasted, provided an incredible service to the community. — Mai Pham, contributing writer, Houston Press
Favorite Food Truck
Think Tacos, various locations: Biting into Think Tacos' fluffy eggs laced with bacon and cheese has been like a warm, comforting embrace — something that's been much needed this year. Almost every Saturday during the pandemic, after my trip to Urban Harvest's farmers market, I've pulled into the parking lot of Antidote Coffee, where Think's red and blue striped white bus was parked, and bought breakfast tacos to take home to my wife and daughter. In addition to a variety of breakfast tacos, which come with both a fiery red salsa and a piquant green, Think Tacos offers street tacos and quesadillas with a choice of fillings such as pastor, carnitas and fajitas, plus truck specialty Candi's Potatoes — a decadent combination of fried potatoes, cheese, onions and cilantro. On Fridays, owner Candido Serrano fires up a stew pot and sells tacos birria at Black Hole Coffee from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at Heights Bier Garten from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. To keep up with other locations and occasional specials, such as lengua and barbacoa, follow Think Tacos on social media. — David Leftwich, associate editor, Houston Food Finder
With the dining world turned upside down, restaurants offering takeout are definitely having a moment. In Houston, that includes a date-night favorite that tastes just as good at home and a sizzling new Thai kitchen rocking a Theodore Rex alum and a drive-thru takeout window.
Squable, 632 West 19th: The butter-rich, raclette-smothered French Cheeseburger at this date night-spot absolutely holds up in a takeout setting, so long as you polish it off the second you reach your dining room table (which is not hard to do). The restaurant was quick to add an easy online ordering system and convenient curbside pickup process when restaurant dining rooms closed, and it’s still in place along with Squable's reopened dine-in service. Take advantage and score that burger, plus house favorites such as marinated mussels toast and fusilli a la béarnaise (or whichever pasta this talented team led by Mark Clayton, Drew Gimma and Terry Williams is serving). Oh, there are to-go brunch offerings, too.
Street to Kitchen, 6501 Harrisburg: Chef Benchawan “G” Jabthong Painter refers to the food at her newly opened East End kitchen as “unapologetically, authentically Thai.” That means no subpar ingredients, no saccharine sauces and no chicken in your pad Thai — though, there will be plump Gulf shrimp. The kitchen was initially open for just delivery and takeout from its drive-thru window but has since added socially distanced dining on the patio. Visit to pick up traditional laarb (a northeastern Thai salad with chicken, chili, garlic, cracked rice and more), fiery Drunken Noodles, and Painter’s addicting Thai-style fried chicken. — Brooke Viggiano, contributing writer, Houston Press
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