When I learned that Local Foods had recently opened its fifth location, this one in the Heights, I felt excited, nostalgic, and old in that order. You see, this writer remembers distinctly when Benjy Levit and Dylan Murray opened the very first Local Foods in Rice Village in 2011 because I happened to stumble there soon after following a hard workout at 24 Fitness next door. I then had the life-altering experience of eating their luscious truffled egg salad sandwich, which has since become one of my very favorite things to eat in Houston. In my many, many subsequent visits to Local Foods throughout the years I have forced myself to try many of the other things on the menu and have yet to be disappointed.
I like that while all Local Foods serve signature items, all of which are made with ingredients from local farmers (hence, the name, natch), each new branch offers distinctive edible and environmental features. Case in point, Local Foods in the Heights has the advantage of the fiat of a JOSPER Charcoal Oven that facilitates talented Chef Maria Gonzalez’s preparation of such dishes like smoked salmon with orange blossom-marinated cucumbers and glazed pork shoulder accompanied by sesame sprouts and warm tortillas. Every January I make a pledge to go vegan for at least one full week, and in 2018 I look forward to keeping this resolution at least at brunch because it means I get to try their vegan migas or the Morning Power Bowl, a lovely textured assemblage of goji berries, seasonal fruit, chia sunflower crunch and protein cashew cream.
The backdrop to me and others enjoying these comestibles is a 12-foot, 300-pound Louise Nevelson-inspired art installation created by designer Aaron Rambo, as well as pieces from August Antiques. Those “local” touches added to all Local Foods’ locations, including the one in the Heights, render the space comforting and inviting, like stepping into someone’s house that should be foreign but feels familiar. For me, that translates into one more “home away from home” in Houston where I can relax and refuel, no doing dishes required.