Here, Eat This

Houston's Best Sandwiches: Honey Ham and Brie at Carter & Cooley Company

The massive honey ham and brie from Carter & Cooley Company is a warm, messy delight.
The massive honey ham and brie from Carter & Cooley Company is a warm, messy delight. Photo by Jeff Balke
We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!

There aren't many legit delicatessens in Houston. In New York City, you might trip on them the way you stumble on a taqueria here every 20 feet or so. But, delis are harder to find, certainly the traditional counter-service variety. Enter Carter & Cooley Comany (C&C sandwich factory, if you're nasty), built in an old bank building at the corner of Ashland and 19th Street in the Heights.

A couple things of note about C&C. First, they open early, like 9 a.m. early. That's well before the typical sandwich eating hour, but perfect if you want to pick one up for lunch just before work. Second, be sure to look at the wall opposite the counter for loads of cool old black and white photos of the neighborhood. A particular favorite is the bathing-suited youngsters in the old Heights Natatorium.

But, the main reason to visit here is the food, namely the sandwiches, all mapped out on boards behind the counter on paddle-shaped cutting boards. There's plenty of good deli fare, but our target is most often the honey ham and brie.

Like most traditional delis, meats are piled high and the honey ham and brie is no exception. Our sandwich, served warm on an onion roll with ham, brie, lettuce, tomato and a generous slathering of honey mustard, was way too big to wedge into our mouths, but we managed. It's also a delightful mess, so have plenty of napkins on hand.

The sweetness from the ham and honey mustard, and even a bit from the soft roll, blend perfectly with the creamy richness of melted brie, a decadent option to be put between any two slices of bread to be sure. Surprisingly, the roll holds up to the gooey interior, which has enough ham to feed a small army. This is most certainly a sandwich that could be shared even if we may have chosen to eat the whole damn thing.

We find that there is always a perfect bite that can be found maybe two or three times in a very good sandwich. In this case, there are more because the ham, brie and honey mustard are pretty well balanced throughout. You might consider asking for half ham as well if the sheer height and hammy-ness of this beast intimidates you. Admittedly, our perfect bites consisted of a little less ham than found in the center of the roll, but the overall experience was stellar.

All of C&C's sandwiches come with a pickle spear and choice of mustard-based potato salad or chips. In all honestly, if you down this monster, you probably won't want anything else for lunch...or maybe dinner. But, it will have been worth it.

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