We're living in wild times. One consequence of life under novel coronavirus COVID-19: We're not going out to restaurants right now, which for Houston feels like some twisted joke.
Luckily we still get to order food from those restaurants, at least the ones offering pick-up, drive-thru, and delivery service. Over the last week some of Houstonia's staffers supported those spots. And after they ate, they wrote about the experience of picking up and bringing home some of their favorite foods.
Thanksgiving in March
Friday afternoon my husband picked up a smoked turkey breast from Feges BBQ along with a mess of sides: Moroccan spiced carrots, elote, kale salad, and pimento mac n’ cheese. Wanting a sense of occasion, we plated everything and set the table before diving in. It was all divine, and fed us Saturday night as well.
Sunday brought awesome turkey sandwiches, and we’ll surely be having them all week. So even though it felt like a splurge at around $80 before tip, it was actually quite the deal. —Catherine Matusow, editor in chief
Comfort, Houston Style
The plan was to order out Friday from one of the Heights's newest hot spots. But in the end we turned to our old friends at Pappasito’s ... because queso.
I ordered online from its limited but sufficient menu: beef taco salad and two beef tacos al carbon, and of course the famous chips and queso. The order was ready within 20 minutes, and my husband was off to pick it up curbside.
When he returned to the set table (I was starving by then), he told me of their curbside set up complete with canopies and clear signage to direct cars into an orderly queue (did I mention they asked for the make, model, and color of your car when ordering?). Also, he saw beer being sold at the checkout table. I had to go back after dinner and snap some evidence.
The person at the register was incredibly friendly, and there was the beer as promised, next to a bottle of hand sanitizer, of course. It might not have been sitting at the bar, watching sports, and smelling like fajitas, but there was something wonderful about being a part of what all Houstonians do best: come together and help each other when times get tough.
Also, I never knew chips and queso could be so comforting. —Monica Fuentes, art director
Keeping the Tradition Alive
When it became clear that my fiancé would be stuck in Europe, and that my birthday would mostly be a day of pretending that everyone singing the traditional song while washing their hands was singing for me, I reached out to Rainbow Lodge (my traditional birthday dinner joint). I ordered a seven-ounce filet with mashed potatoes and asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce. And I admit, I wondered if the meal, toted from the establishment to my house, would manage to be anywhere near as good.
I should never have had even a smidge of doubt about what owner Donnette Hansen and her team could pull off. The dinner came out from the kitchen precisely when I was expecting to pick it up and was still the perfect temperature once I got it all home. I’m pretty sure the mashed potatoes were the most flawless iteration of the dish ever served up, I inhaled the asparagus and used the Hollandaise as a dipping sauce, and the steak was so tender I could cut into it with a butter knife. And then came my dessert, the lemon icebox pie.
There’s nothing else to say, because like everything Rainbow Lodge does, I loved it. And for a little while, everything in the world felt a little less frantic and a little more normal.
Oh ... hit up that wine list, too. —Dianna Wray, managing editor
Get What Feels Good
When your job is to eat out at restaurants daily, it's especially weird when the city's dining rooms close at once. Tuesday evening, after bars were ordered to shut down and restaurants had to scale down to essentially pick-up and delivery operations, I felt strangely lost. I had plans for the whole week, now out the window. I wasn't about to cook dinner, and I wasn't very sure where to turn.
"OK," I told myself, "What will make you feel good right now?"
So I placed an order by phone, then I locked my front door and walked 20 minutes to Blackbird Izakaya. There, chef Billy Kin was cooking and taking orders alone. With gloves on, he handed me a big brown bag with my order: spicy miso ramen and five chili wings.
"You like the foie gras hot pot!" he said. "Let me know next time and I'll make one up."
I told Kin that I like a lot of his food, so no worries. Really, I just wanted something to warm my soul and relieve my stress, and the ramen was exactly that. I also felt I might need some late-night grub (or a quick lunch the next day), which is where the wings came in. Both dishes were delicious.
My job is a lot different than it was just two weeks ago. Yours might be, too. Maybe you're feeling a little lost and anxious. If so, think about my Blackbird Izakaya decision and get something that'll make you feel good. —Timothy Malcolm, dining editor