The lowly sandwich seems to be the ascendant foodstuff lately with writers writing about them and several shops, including JewBoy SubShop, the dipdipdip pop-up, and the Chicken Salad Shoppe, to name a few recent neighborhood additions, focused on elevating them. Using bread to facilitate the consumption of fillings perhaps goes back to Hillel the Elder who wrapped lamb and herbs in a soft matzah around 50 BC. The Dutch apparently used open-faced sandwiches as early as the 1600s as a sliced-beef delivery system with butter as glue. Regardless of the historical set-up, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), is credited with the popularization, if not the invention, of something crammed between two slices of bread as a way to eat greasy-messy things without getting greasy-messy things on your fingers while playing cards. With the Industrial Revolution, fast and portable meals such as the sandwich became essential to the working class.
Local Foods hails from Houston where Food & Wine deemed it the best sammich shop in the Bayou City while Houstonia, Eater Houston, and Thrillest, among others, have sung its praises. Having conquered Houston with four boutique stores, Local Foods is expanding to Austin, with a brick-n-mortar opening up downtown soon in the 2nd Street District and a pop-up open now in Allandale at the old Bonhomie location at 5350 Burnet Road.
We tried take-out from Local Foods last week, and it was top-to-bottom impressive. I tried one of their over-stuffed sandwiches, the “Crunchy” Chicken (oven roasted chicken breast, nut-seed crumble, crushed chips, tomato, house pickles, romaine, provolone, buttermilk ranch, pretzel bun + two sides; $14) while the bride ordered one of their soulful salads, the Taco Salad (baby kale, romaine, house-made vegan “taco meat,” avocado, roasted cilantro-corn, tomato, marinated jicama, pickled onion, tortilla strips, kidney beans, pumpkin seed, and lime vinaigrette; $14).
The Crunchy Chicken sandwich was a revelation, carefully designed and remarkably delicious (as well as quite ample and easily two meals). The pretzel bun appears to have been hollowed out and is graced with the perfect balance of chew and release. Rather than fighting with the bun, each bite broke away from the pack like Lance Armstrong leaving the peloton after his third dose of EPO. The chicken glistened with juice and quality while the various flavors danced on the tongue in graceful balance. The bride was overjoyed that the kale in her salad was shredded and, similar to the sandwich, the portion was enormous. The vegan “taco meat” came on the side and was actually good (as well as ample; we saved about half for tacos later). The house made chips were thin-and-crispy delicious with a sprinkling of Old Bay, and, for my second side, the potato salad was tasty and egg-heavy.
Being chile-heads, we also ordered a cup of “Our Classic Chicken Posole” (poblano, green chile, hominy, cilantro, pumpkin seed; $4). It ain’t the posole the New Mexican grandma we never had used to make, but it clucked with flavor and sparkled with lime. The House Watermelon Lemonade (16 ounces; $3.5) twanged with fresh-squeezed lemon, nicely off-setting the blissfully unenhanced sweetness of the watermelon.
As the name suggests, Local Foods taps into local food providers, so the menu differs by location, although there are similarities (the Crunchy Chicken is a Houston fave). Unsurprisingly, the joint downtown, like the ones in Houston, will be fast casual. I say “unsurprisingly” because it’s difficult to imagine a sit-down, white-napkin restaurant focused on sandwiches, but Local Foods’ wares just might be able to pull it off.
I wrote this review for the Allandale Neighbor.
web&where: interwebs; 5350 Burnet Road; (512) 614-1212
what’s the deal? elevated sandwiches and salads; pop-up (take-out and delivery with limited outdoor seating; brick & mortar downtown will be fast casual)
overall: *** (food***; instagrammability***)
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best] each $ = $10; cost is based on a typical dinner entrée and appetizer (no drinks)
each $ = $10; cost is based on a typical dinner entrée and appetizer (no drinks)