In and Out

An Ode to Quick-Service Lunch Spots

Where to go when you need that meal fast.

By Timothy Malcolm October 24, 2019

Sometimes I get this question from people, once they find out I'm a food writer:

"Do you eat out every day?" Pretty much, yes.

Half the job is food, which is the really awesome part. The other half is writer, which means hitting deadlines and sometimes declining to go for a big meal because a story has to be finished.

On the days the writer part is overshadowing the food part and I haven't scheduled a midday meal, I find myself visiting one of the several quick-service spots around my workplace (5th Street and Heights Boulevard). Recently it was L&L Hawaiian BBQ, the first Inner Loop location of the popular chain that also has a spot in Katy. I tried the teriyaki beef barbecue bowl, which includes copious white rice and a few steamed vegetables, and it was filling if not a little too starchy. But hey, when you want something quick ...

My favorite quick-service meal is right next door at Pokéworks. My go-to is ahi tuna and salmon with steamed rice, and typically edamame, mango, ogo (or an algae called gracilaria), masago, and ponzu fresh sauce. I might order it once every few weeks, paired with one of those craft fountain sodas (lemongrass, please). 

Usually I can get to Pokéworks, order my bowl, walk out, and get back to work within 20 minutes. While I'm not advocating such a short lunch period (we all need breaks), sometimes that's all I can do. I'm just glad we have decent options for quick-service and fast-casual lunch grub.

Ah, a nice banh mi from Les Givral's.

Others around town that I like:

  • SweetgreenIt's all over the country and now has two Houston locations. Its salads and bowls are chock-full of fresh veggies. 
  • Seaside PokeSpeaking of poke, I consider them to have the most flavorful ingredients. My go-to here is the salmon ponzu bowl.
  • Tacos a Go GoIt's another Heights place that's easy to enjoy. Two grilled shrimp tacos go a long way. I love the queso blanco.
  • Les Givral's Sandwich & CaféYou'll get your banh mi here within eight minutes. The cafe sua da here is perfect.
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