Chances are good that when you think of Common Bond, the bakery in Montrose at the corner of Westheimer Rd. and Dunlavy St. with the notably packed parking lot, you think of two things: slow-moving queues of people and sweet pastries. Common Bond has received great acclaim for those pastries, as former chef Roy Shvartzapel (who's since departed for New York City) brought many recipes to Houston for the first time—or at least the first time in a long time—when it opened last summer. Suddenly, Houston had kugelhopf, the tiny bundt cakes studded with raisins and almonds and soaked in cherry brandy. We had kouign amann, the round cakes of buttery puff pastry with layers of caramelized sugar between the delicate sheets. We had real croissants, the kind you'd find in elegant European bakeries. No one was searching out threads of Houston cuisine amidst the glassed cases of mint-hued macarons or immaculately filled éclairs.
1706 Westheimer Rd.
But that didn't stop Common Bond from weaving those threads into its offerings. In the months since it's been open, the bakery has introduced items beyond just the sweet pastries that encouraged those first few months of zig-zag lines out the front door. Today on its lunch menu you'll find a chicken torta on a fresh-baked telera roll. At brunch, look for carnitas fries with lard-braised pork atop classic pommes frites and a hot link po-boy with pork sausage and okra. And at breakfast, you're well-advised to seek out the chorizo and egg torta that's served daily until 10:30 a.m.
Soft curds of chorizo ooze their classic orange grease into a layer of eggs that are as gently scrambled as those in Common Bond's soft-scramble egg dish, another morning favorite. On top of this mixture are torn Bibb lettuce leaves that add a nice crunch along with the pickled jalapeños below. Rounding out the sandwich are such classic torta fixings as guacamole, salsa verde, and white crumbles of queso fresco. While this would all be satisfying on even the meanest bread, it's Common Bond's telera roll itself that elevates the entire sandwich to truly magnificent proportions: pillowy and soft enough to absorb the chorizo juices and trickles of salsa verde but thick enough to hold up to the entire messy affair until the very end.
And while it's certainly satisfying for Houston to finally have the sort of bakery committed to making the sort of exceptional pastries that could compete on an international level, it's imminently more satisfying to see that same love and careful attention given to a Houston classic: the humble, enduring torta.