Here, Eat This

Houston's Best Sandwiches: "Crunchy Chicken" at Local Foods

The Local Foods "Crunchy" Chicken may not be a hunk of fried messiness, but it is nevertheless divine.
The Local Foods "Crunchy" Chicken may not be a hunk of fried messiness, but it is nevertheless divine. Photo by Jeff Balke
We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!

Fried chicken is amazing. Crammed between two pieces of bread, it's downright transcendent. But, only if you feel like consuming approximately eleventy billion calories. On a weekday at lunch, this is a recipe for a miserable afternoon at the office.

Praise the Lord we have Local Foods to step in and save us from ourselves with their "Crunchy" Chicken sandwich. Think of this as a fried chicken sandwich light, but with more than enough flavor to satisfy and heft to keep you full for hours.

Local Foods, now in five Houston-area locations, was the invention of the crew that owns well-known brunch spot Benjy's (we made our foray to the original in Rice Village inside the old original Antone's spot). Local's lunchtime offerings of upscale sandwiches and salads have an almost bistro feel, but with fairly reasonable prices considering the locally-sourced ingredients and hand-crafted nature of much of what is on the menu. You'd hardly miss with any of the sandwich selections here and there a fair amount of debate among regulars as to which is the best, but few argue about the value of the "Crunchy" Chicken.

At its core, it's a fairly simple chicken sandwich with chopped chicken breast, provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickles and ranch dressing on a roll. But that's where simple ends. These days, any semi-gourmet spin on a classic is often referred to as "elevated" whether it is deserving or not. This sandwich is worthy of that adjective and then some.

The "ranch" is, in fact, a rich and mildly spicy green goddess dressing, pairing perfectly with the house-made pickles. It should be noted that far too often, "in-house-made" pickles taste like watery cucumbers. Not here. These are every bit of that bright and tangy bite we all crave in a good dill. Next, tack on a light and airy Slough Dough pretzel bun, which holds up well to all the ingredients.

But, it is the unique way they add crunch that makes this sandwich stand out. Beneath the chicken is a nut crumble (a chopped up blend of nuts and maybe a bit of brown sugar), adding just a hint of sweetness. On top of the chicken are crushed potato chips (also made in house and served whole on the side) for saltiness. The combination literally sandwiches the chicken between two crunchy elements like batter but with deeper and richer flavors and a hell of a lot less fat.

By the time you are done, you'll definitely be full, but you probably won't feel weird and sweaty like you would after consuming half a chicken deep fried and slapped on a bun with some mayo. Sure, this isn't exactly a fried chicken sandwich. In many respects, it's better, comparisons be damned.

If you have a sandwich you think is one of the best in town, hit us up. We're always looking for new options.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke