Hu's Cooking was just what the host ordered for a recent retirement "party."

A couple weeks ago we at Houstonia shared some of our favorite take-out meals while in COVID-19 quarantine. We're back at it with a new collection of stories. Remember, if you want takeout, we have a list for you.

A Little Fresh, A Little Zen

It’s been really hard to go without barbecue—I’m a big Pinkerton’s fan, from the jalapeno cheese rice to the brisket sandwiches to the blueberry cobbler. So ordering a rack of ribs and a couple links of sausage for take-home was a very special treat, a moment of zen. I sliced up what was left of the sausage to use in a pot of red beans. It was glorious.

Though it’s not entirely “takeout,” the Local Foods produce box is definitely worth the $30. You get tons of local produce. Mine included leafy greens, celery, carrots, sweet potatoes bigger than your head, giant broccoli crowns and yellow onions, juicy tomatoes, ears of corn, cabbage, apples, and what were definitely the stars of the haul, red peppers and poblanos. —Gwendolyn Knapp, assistant editor

Comfort, with Cherries on Top

It’s times like these when you really appreciate little things, including the power of a perfect dish of chicken tikka masala and a flawless Manhattan. I have been going to Surya India for years now, so when I decided that I needed my traditional comfort food—chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, basmati rice (aka all of the carbs)—I didn’t even hesitate.

As I was calling in my order, I was overcome by a craving that had been building for the past month or so (whenever it was that this pandemic really got going and upended all of our lives) and asked if they might also be able to pack me the ingredients to make a Manhattan. “Yes, I think we can manage,” the guy taking my order said casually.

When I picked up my food 30 minutes later, I got a little giddy just seeing the ingredients for my favorite cocktail (including two cherries!) tucked into the bag. And then I got home and had the pleasure of dining on the grub while sipping a marvelous libation. Sheel Joshi’s food is always amazing, but this round of my usual order was exceptional.

And yes, I know it’s a lot of carbs, but just do yourself a favor and order the rice and garlic naan. You’ll enjoy and devour both. Also, consider ordering a mango lassi if you’re wanting dessert. Again, you won’t be sorry. —Dianna Wray, interim editor in chief

Very Personal Service

I had heard that Federal American Grill owner Matt Brice had published his cell phone number on Instagram so customers can text orders directly to him. He said Federal's entire menu was still on offer (a rarity I’ve found), so I placed our order for a wagyu burger, cajun chicken sandwich, and bang bang shrimp, and he immediately messaged back confirming it and our preferred pick up time. The process couldn’t have been easier. My husband arrived back at the house describing the waiter running out to the car almost as soon as he turned into the parking lot, thanking him profusely. He said they looked forward to seeing us again inside sometime in the future.

I can say that for certain I’m looking forward to trying out the rest of that menu ... using our $20 gift certificate signed by Matt himself. —Monica Fuentes, art director

Editor's note: Brice made some news just after this by opening Federal American Grill's dining room before everyone else in the city.

Buns with the Family

After working for nearly 50 years, my father retired recently. I arranged a family-wide Zoom call to raise a glass to Dad, but beforehand wanted to grab some celebratory food. Throughout my life, celebrations typically revolved around Chinese takeout, so I went with my favorite, Hu's Cooking near the Medical Center.

First, it felt like a treat to drive anywhere outside of the Heights (I've barely left the neighborhood in 40 days); second, it was great to see owner John Hu, even for a second as he hurried inside to help with orders. I picked up kid-friendly fried noodles for my daughters, plus a couple egg rolls and a chef's special in the lightly spicy, highly addictive beef in garlic sauce, served with a bunch of warm, pliable buns. I love this stuff.

Over Hu's Cooking and cheap red wine, we spent about 45 minutes with my family. We had leftovers for two meals, and because my family can be a little crazy, a few memories to take with us. For a little while, at least, life felt a little more "normal," whatever that means. —Timothy Malcolm, dining editor

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