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It's a gorgeous day for a picnic y'all. Grab yourself some Box Lunches and head to the park! (Safely of course.) 🏞️😎⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Pictured:⁠⠀ 1) Avocado Tomato Sandwich⁠⠀ *Vegan - Avocado, tomato, basil-parsley pistou, sprouts, arugula. pickled red onion, carrots, on rye bread.⁠⠀ Comes with sea salt chips and a chocolate chip cookie.⁠⠀ *sandwiches are half portions⁠⠀ 2) Seasonal Fruit Side (Or the prettiest little fruit flower you ever did see. Let's be honest.)⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ How to Order:⁠⠀ 1) Order pick up & curbside via the Common Bond Mobile App or CommonBondToGo.com⁠⠀ 2) @Favor ⁠⠀ 3) @UberEats⁠⠀ 4) @GrubHub⁠⠀ 5) @DoorDash⁠⠀ 6) Stop by, place your order and wait socially distanced please!⁠⠀ 7) Call your nearest location to place your order! (Phone numbers below)⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Montrose: 713.529.3535⁠⠀ Medical Center: 346.327.8393⁠⠀ Heights: 713.357.9397⁠⠀

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HAVING TROUBLE KEEPING UP with Houston’s busy restaur— (record scratch)

Yes, we're still not back to whatever normal is. Restaurants aren't quite open fully (75 percent of maximum capacity), and some have had to temporarily close because COVID-19 hasn't gone away (in fact, it's still here as strong as it's ever been).

That is to say: Please be cautious out there. Eat at a patio if you can. If you can't, keep at least six feet distance from other parties, don't touch your face, sanitize and wash your hands constantly, and wear a mask if possible.

And now, here are places I'm digging lately (with some emphasis on the Heights, as I'm still primarily dining in my neighborhood), whether for takeout, delivery, or dine in, or all three:

Common Bond On-the-Go

The popular brand recently launched its newest concept, a tidy on-the-go theme, inside the former Sam's Fried Chicken & Donuts on Heights Boulevard. You'll find Common Bond morning stalwarts like kugelhoff, scones, and macarons, plus a sizable coffee presence and savory breakfast items. Later in the day, pick up a meat and cheese board for an at-home picnic, or head to your next errand with a smoked salmon and everything bagel cream cheese sandwich on rye.

A sampling of the rolls and chips and dip from Hando.

Hando

At night I walk around the Heights, and often I'll cruise past Hando and notice a couple parties at the bar counter, all sitting very apart from each other—basically, it's a good time to go in and check out this new-ish hand roll spot that packs their tight creations with yellowtail, musubi, and shrimp katsu. If you do get takeout, you'll notice the hand rolls are cut like maki, but everything is the same, still fresh and fantastic. My favorite is the spicy tuna, which has more heat than your garden-variety version, and it's a bang for your buck at $7.50 ($6 for dine-in hand roll). Also try selections from the not-hand-roll section of the menu; I recommend the massive sesame-flecked chips with nutty and creamy edamame avocado creme fraiche. Great snack.

The ultra-crispy and delicious fried chicken from Himalaya.

Himalaya

If ever there was a meal during the COVID-19 pandemic that made me feel like I could get through this thing no problem, it was the three-track greatest hits takeout blast I experienced from Kaiser Lashkari and his popular Sharpstown restaurant. First was the paneer biryani where silky cheese cubes brighten an already addictive rice and vegetable plate. Then came the goat masala, naturally, with long-cooked meat in that homey and comforting gravy. Finally, the Himalaya fried chicken, that otherworldly combination of earthy spices, salty, juicy meat, and extra crispy—almost tempura-like—skin. After that I was ready to take on the world, full belly be damned.

Pad Thai at Kin Dee is wrapped in an omelet.

Kin Dee

Now open at 15th and Shepherd in the Market at Houston Heights development, this bold, red-and-gold-toned restaurant from Thai friends Lukkaew Srasrisuwan and Miranda Leotkhamfu presents more modern interpretations of its co-owners' native cuisine. They've picked and chosen from across the country to fill the menu, and there's plenty to investigate, including an omelet-wrapped pad Thai, street-style pork belly skewers, and spicy, decadent Northern-style curry with a quarter chicken and a woven treasure of crispy noodles.

Mico's Hot Chicken

Now open on Shepherd Drive in the Heights is this ultra-popular hot chicken hang from Chris and Kimico Frydenlund. It started in 2019 as a trailer by the Galleria, instantly catching fire for its delicious interpretation of the Nashville hot chicken sandwich (specifically Prince's Hot Chicken's) at a time when all of America was going gaga for the food item. Mico's has been serving up just a few items through its walk-up window, allowing people to sit on picnic tables outside, as well. Of course, the sandwiches are the hit, and I recommend hot, which has great lingering bite that dissipates after about 15 minutes. It's packed on a soft bun with plenty of cole slaw and pickles, making for one of the city's best sandwiches, period.

Brennan's of Houston 

On a recent Friday night I craved more of a big-ticket meal, so I opted for Brennan's of Houston, and it didn't disappoint. Its to-go menu features all the big comforting dishes you'd want, from soft-shell crab to Harris Ranch filet mignon, but I got the crawfish- and boudin-stuffed quail, maybe the most intense of all. It kept astonishingly well, still warm and juicy with perfect stuffing texture. I added an order of the crawfish enchilada, just for the heck of it, and enjoyed the dinner immensely. Yes, eating at a dining room table with two moody children isn't the same as getting impeccable service at the historic restaurant, but sometimes the food is all you need.

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