Taster's Choice

This Spirit of Texas Bank Cafeteria May Surprise You

Choice Cafeteria serves homemade Vietnamese, Chinese and American fare.

By Alice Levitt January 25, 2017

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Bun bo nuong, $7.99. Egg rolls are an additional $1.35 each.

Image: Alice Levitt

Most people don't like cafeteria food. This is perplexing to me. I, in fact, love cafeterias so much that I don't even require them to be good. But when the food is made well enough to hang with a real restaurant's, that's worth taking notice. Especially when the circumstances are as strange as at Choice Cafeteria.

If you've driven on North Post Oak Road, you likely know the Spirit of Texas Bank building and its shining star logo that makes it look a bit like an edifice that's been made an honorary sheriff. Choice isn't clearly labeled, so follow your nose to the back of the first floor, where the only marking indicates that there's a "deli" within. That might be a bit more accurate than "cafeteria"—there's no line of trays and pre-made food. Instead, diners order from the comprehensive menu and the cook prepares it to order. 

And when I say "comprehensive," I mean it. I counted around 100 items on the menu, including daily specials. There are dishes you'd expect, like deli sandwiches and burgers, but you can get those anywhere. You can't go to most office buildings and order barbecue, Chinese and Vietnamese food to be consumed in a single sitting. At Choice you can. I'm not able to recommend the other dishes, but I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the bun bo nuong I tried.

There was something unusually silky in the texture of the vermicelli, and the nuoc cham was packed with chiles and less sugary than usual. There was almost as much cilantro as lettuce and carrot in the mix of produce. The beef could have been more heartily flavored with the lemongrass in its description.

But it didn't matter too much because I was so in love with the egg rolls. The filling of ground pork and scallions blended with the hot, crisp layers of wrapper to form something that reminded me of a Chinese scallion pancake stuffed with pork. Authentic? Probably not. Trashy? You betcha. A new favorite? That, too. Too bad I can only get them during office hours.

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