Real Food Company in IAH

While you and yours were airing grievances on Festivus, I was flying the friendly skies on a single-day round trip, chasing Platinum status before 2010 elapsed. Free airline food has gone the way of the dodo unless you're sitting in First Class. Fortunately, the MSY (New Orleans) to D-FW circuit stopped over at IAH in each direction, with both layovers at meal times. I dined at Real Food Company in Terminal C for breakfast and lunch and was pleased on both occasions.

Walking into Real Food Company is like walking up to the food counter at Whole Foods - there's tons of different cuisines available. The sushi chef was busy turning out the days' supply of maguro nigiri, California rolls and other Japanese selections. But typical breakfast fare is an easy litmus test at a new joint.

I ordered up scrambled eggs, grits and a biscuit. While the butter and salt content was conservative, the grits were outstanding and easily bested the grits from my last trip to Avalon Diner (yeah, I said it). I admit that it's hard to screw up scrambled eggs if you're paying attention, but I expected some sort of powdered egg derivative from the get-go. Nyet. Those ova were real, baby, and well-cooked without being overly done. The biscuit was nothing special, but it did the job without making me wish for a gallon of water to rinse the spackle out of my mouth.

Two diners could have easily split the breakfast at a cost of under four dollars per, which makes the Real Food breakfast plate the smart choice for those who want something other than fast food. And, the cost is on par with the next best option, Pappasito's breakfast tacos, without the trek to Terminal E.

My breakfast coma had barely abated before I was back at the food counter for lunch. I'd had the roasted chicken plate on a prior visit, so I opted for the carnitas burrito. The carnitas were tender enough to eat with a spoon, but the overall quality was not so hot. The wrap was loose, and the cheese was fake. Who puts fake shredded cheese on a ten dollar burrito?

I lived despite the C- minus burrito, yet I would have been happier with the roasted chicken (which is better than anything you can pull out of your Ronco) special. Both the white and dark pieces were tender and juice-down-your-face delicious. And, if you smile at the lady, she'll throw in some tortillas and guac so you can make some pulled chicken tacos at your table.

If you're thinking "E. None of the above," you could opt for the aforementioned sushi, barbecue, the cuisine du jour (it was Greek on Festivus), pizza or something from the sammich line. Any way you cut it, Real Food is a solid option for travelers looking for great food fast.

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