There's no two ways around it, folks. This sucks. The worsening COVID-19 pandemic has affected every level of our society, leaving many of us stranded in our homes, some of us jobless and many others forced to keep working in high-risk environments.
You've probably heard it already, but perhaps no industry will be harder hit by this crisis than food service. With bars and restaurants unable to open for regular business, one of Houston's most significant cultural triumphs, its food scene, is hemorrhaging jobs and money by the hour. The incredibly diverse, multicultural and largely independent restaurant industry by which so many identify our city is at risk of being replaced by whichever corporate monsters snag up the most post-crisis real estate — a Saltgrass in every home.
Not all hope is lost, however. As you may have also heard, several local restaurants, bars and breweries are transitioning operations away from dine-in services to offer exclusively take-out and delivery. While not everyone is in a financial position to patronize restaurants at this time, those of us who are should consider the ramifications of not doing so. A take-out meal from a locally owned business once or twice a week during the duration of this crisis could go a long way toward saving the city's culinary landscape.
As such, we're launching this new weekly column. A guide to eating out during a global pandemic. A weekly review of one take-out or delivery meal from a locally owned restaurant. We begin, naturally, with fajitas.
Fajitas A Go Go has unknowingly been preparing for this moment since it opened its doors in 2016. It's in their name. With a tiny dining area and a brand focus on delivery and catering, the West U counter-service Tex-Mex kitchen, from the minds behind Tacos A Go Go, was literally made for this.
With dine-in services halted across the city, diners are looking for easy options. Delivery apps are king right now, but continue to charge restaurants exorbitant fees even in the midst of the crisis. So what to do? Most restaurants are taking orders by phone, with many offering curbside pick up so you'd never have to leave your vehicle. Taking it one step further, Fajitas A Go Go has a complete order and checkout process built into their website. While delivery requires a $45 minimum and a location within their delivery range, carry-out and curbside pickup orders can still be completed online. Call and walk-in orders are available as well.
My wife and I split a beef and chicken fajita meal for two ("double meat"). At $20, this order feeds two, plus leftovers. It comes with a giant bag of tortillas chips, two types of salsa, pico, shredded cheese, sour cream, refried beans, grilled onions, melted butter, 6 flour or corn tortillas and enough beef and chicken to make breakfast with the next day. A word to the unattached: for an additional $4, the double meat option will feed a single person for two days.
This small Tex-Mex kitchen takes big pride in its offerings. Head chef Mallory Buford, a grilling savant, opts for sirloin cuts, simply seasoned with salt and pepper, in place of the more traditional, heavily marinated bottom skirt steaks used in most beef fajitas. Whole chickens are rotisserie grilled over mesquite wood. The outcome is a slightly more elevated yet still fast-casual rendition of staple Tex-Mex.
Chips are accompanied by green and red salsas, of which I found the green, cilantro-lime heavy variety refreshingly acidic. The beef was simple, medium-rare to medium temp with a smokey, wood-grilled aroma. Chicken was lightly charred and even smokier, tender even after microwaving (pro tip: add some of that butter back to the meat when nuking your leftovers. Trust me.)
For ease of ordering, quality and price, Fajitas A Go Go has and continues to offer one of the best take-out/delivery options in Houston. Undoubtedly a top contender for the best to-go Tex-Mex meal in Houston. A small store with comparatively minimal overhead, their fare is markedly more affordable than their traditional dine-in competitors. It'll be interesting to see if such local heavyweights adjust pricing to compete in this post-pandemic world or rely on brand loyalty to sustain business. For my money, I'll be frequenting my new favorite fajita joint during and long after this is over.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.