Owning a food truck/mobile cart is hard work, but at the end of the day, you still gotta eat. For this week's Where the Chefs Eat series, we're checking in to see where some of Houston's on-the-go chef-proprietors get their grub on.
Let's see where Amelia Pferd of Good Dog Hot Dogs, Sean Carroll of Melange Creperie and John Peterson of the Rice Box Truck like to eat around town.
Amalia Pferd Chef/Owner, Good Dog Hot Dogs Food Truck
Standard Go-To: I am a sucker for Italian food, so my standard go-to restaurant is Coppa Ristorante, typically for a nice family dinner or date night with my sweetheart, Daniel Caballero. We always order the fritto misto, perfectly tender shrimp and calamari with fried fennel, sliced lemon and herbs. I am hooked on Brandi Key's house-made ravioli or spaghetti carbonara as my entrée; both are just divine.
Cheap Eats: For my cheap eats, I typically go to Taconazo Taco Truck for their delicious $1.50 tacos. I always order the quesadillas with extra green salsa. Their charro beans are also amazing; order them early as they tend to sell out. They're open till 2:30 a.m. on the weekends and located next to Radical Eats on Fulton. Regular Places: I often grab lunch at Nielsen's Delicatessen off Richmond. My sandwich of choice is their chicken salad on pumpernickel, always with a deviled egg on the side if they have any left. This tends to be a comfort food for me because I've been getting the same thing since my family first moved here from California. Also, located a bit closer to home is Chiloso's Taco House off 20th Street in the Heights. I usually order their Papas Rancheras and Carne Guisada tacos with refried beans. They have great fresh-squeezed lemonade and a nice warm tomato salsa that comes with their guacamole and chips.
Sean Carroll Chef/Owner, Melange Creperie
Standard go-to: My go-to restaurant is Cali Sandwich in Midtown, where I get the barbecue pork sandwich and rib the owner, who is a good shouter, both at her employees and customers. I have been going there for a decade, ever since I worked in a warehouse in the Fifth Ward and went there every week. Cafe sua da and Vietnamese egg rolls are also awesome things to get at Cali.
Cheap eats: Wing Spot on Crosstimbers near Fulton (not Wing Stop, those bastards are from Dallas), where I get 20 wings for half price on Tuesdays or Sundays. I am from Buffalo and these are the closest wings to the real thing I have found in this town. The owner must be from Buffalo because on the wall is a sign advertising a "Pitcher of Pop."
Late night and comfort food: Late night cheap eats, I love to go to Taco Keto on Fulton, where I get barbacoa tacos for a buck fifty. In the morning I love to wait in line at Taqueria Laredo on Cavalcade near Fulton for tacos with handmade tortillas, great barbacoa, mole and chicharrones. For a little comfort I go to Greenway Coffee under Greenway Plaza 5 for a pour-over on my way to shop at Costco. Sandwiches at Spec's, pitas at Phoenicia, curry at Asia Market and pizza at Frank's are frequent quick bites for me.
Jon Petersen Chef/Owner, Rice Box Truck
Standard Go-To: Pho Binh. It's been said once in the Houston Press, but I'll say it again. My No. 1 go-to place when I am in a slump, hungover or just taking some friends out from in or out of town is going to be Pho Binh, the trailer. Having grown up right down the street from the trailer, the "Binh" has been a staple in my diet for over 15 years. To this day I still order the same dish, pho tai bo vien, in a large size with a side of nuoc beo (fat), and depending on my hunger, I'll swing for a second bowl of their famous pho ga kho. When I used to smoke, and would finish the meal with a cigarette and cafe sua da to complete a sort of ritual that I have with Pho Binh, the **ma ritual. You can never go wrong with the "Binh."
Cheap Eats: Long Sing. In college most of us are broke, REAL broke; therefore, we look for the cheapest, best solution for food. In my case, when I was at U of H, my calling was Long Sing in EaDo. Long Sing (2017 Walker Street) is an old Chinese theater turned supermarket in the late '70s, early '80s...It is one of the last remaining original "Chinatown" buildings in EaDo; you not only get great food, but a kick-ass experience as well. Long Sing, like many Asian markets, serves hanging duck, char siu pork, roasted pork, chicken and more, over a bed of veggies and rice. For $5.25 you can have any two of these proteins with fixin's and bottomless tea, which is a steal. When I go, I order char siu pork with duck topped with extra duck, veggies and rice. This combo never fails. It just so happened that we frequented the place so much over the years, a nickname was developed for Long Sing, The Rice Box. So when you head to The Rice Box, tell them the "Rice Box" guy sent you there!
On the Run: Originally Thiem Hung, Cafe TH is quite possibly the place I frequent the most. With fresh, great-tasting banh mi on the fly, Cafe TH is hard to beat. My regular there is a large Banh Mi Thit Nuong with extra meat, kimchi and a couple of eggs; extra spicy. It hits the spot every time. And if Minh has any laying around, I'll try to scoop one of his amazing Cafe sua da cakes as well. Cafe TH is some good eating and is like Cheers when you step in; Minh will never forget your name. Hell, I even attempted a 4.86lb banh mi there once for the Zombie eating challenge; where else can you do that?
If you missed our previous posts, click below to see more of Where the Chefs Eat: