First Look at Local Foods

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
Step up and order at Local Foods.
Let's get one thing out of the way first: Stop blaming benjy's for Antone's demise. I'm the first to say that I miss the old Antone's in Rice Village like I miss Elvis. So come on now: We can all agree that Antone's closed before its time and that it sucks, but -- like Elvis -- it was a demise of its own creation.

I'm also excited to see benjy's move into the space with a trimmed-down version of itself, a super-casual place where you can pop in, grab a sandwich and a beer and maybe take a six-pack of Dublin Dr Pepper home with you on your way out. This new venture, Local Foods, is less of a market that it originally set out to be, but that doesn't make it any less useful.

As the name would indicate, Local Foods serves food made with local products. That list of products is outlined on the robin's egg blue menus that sit in a wire basket next to the cash register: David Cater's produce from Utility Research Garden, eggs from Hatterman, cheese from Pola, more vegetables from Gundermann Farms, Atkinson Farms and even Animal Farm, just to name a few.

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IT'S LOCAL. DID WE MENTION IT'S LOCAL.
And if it weren't for the fact that so much of the food is obtained from these purveyors, the "local" exhortations found all around the space would get tiresome and preachy very quickly. As it is, however, it's a pretty little place that's rather no-nonsense about its food otherwise. And that's a good thing in my book.

There's plenty of room in the old, brightly lit Antone's spot to spread out and stay a while, and the calm, mid-century modern look encourages it. But the food does come out quickly -- in less time than the promised 15 minutes when we went earlier this week -- making it ideal for a fast lunch break, too. Although I was there for the latter (a fast lunch), I wished I could linger with a pint of Karbach and really do my sandwich justice.

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The place does make damn fine smoked salmon.
I'd ordered a [decidedly non-local] smoked salmon on a poppyseed bagel ($10), which came out looking nothing like any smoked salmon you'll encounter in other restaurants. The fish was still translucent, shimmering slightly under the light and looking for all the world like fat slices of raw salmon. That rich, fatty, smoky flavor was all there, though (and Local Foods claims to smoke its salmon in-house), highlighted by a tartly sweet onion jam in place of raw onions or cream cheese or capers. It was a trade-off I'll happily make again.

My friend's sandwich was a bit more in keeping with the theme of the place: a Gulf shrimp and blue crab affair with green goddess dressing ($12). The 1970s-era dressing is a cutely kitschy touch, but has a purpose, too: The mayo-based dressing is a great way to use excess herbs from your garden (especially the ones that grow like weeds here in Houston, like basil). Local Foods's version wasn't as tangy as I like my green goddess to be, but I found no fault with the fresh-tasting shrimp and crab that spilled out of the sandwich from all sides.

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Speaking of: You get two sides with your sandwich here, based mostly on what's in season. I grabbed a kale salad with golden raisins and toasted pine nuts, appreciating how the roasty flavor of those pine nuts and the sweetness of the raisins tempered the kale. A beet salad with more pine nuts was less of a success, but still better than the green olive-saturated quinoa salad my friend got.

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Meeeeeeemories, like the coooooorners of my mind.
"They should call this olive salad with a hint of quinoa," he bemoaned of the stuff. But neither of us found fault with the red-skinned potatoes in a Dijon-based potato salad with fresh nips of oregano and sherry vinegar.

On the ground outside the front door, Local Foods has left the old Antone's lettering in the cement as a reminder of the former tenant's long history in the building. And although it's always sad to see a beloved restaurant shut its doors, at least the replacement in this case is doing the old deli justice.



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Location Info

Local Foods

2424 Dunstan Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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14 comments
Wilson
Wilson

Antone's, Shmantone's - used to eat there, it was fine, they closed and Local Food's opened.  So what.  Local Foods is much better than Antones ever dreamed of being - the difference between pretty good and excellent.

Local Food's has excellent food and fast service.  Their daily sweets are one of the best deals in Houston - Benji's mom's brownie or chess pie or whatever - only $2.50.  Sandwiches/salads plus two sides ain't cheap at ~$10, but you can do one sandwich, 2 teas, sandwich, 2 sides, 1 dessert - more than enough for 2 and $20 total, including tip.

MadMac
MadMac

We can all agree that Antone's closed before its time and that it sucks, but -- like Elvis -- it was a demise of its own NASTY sandwiches.

Fixed that right up for you. You're welcome.

Taft
Taft

How dare they keep the Antone's doorway tile work! BLASPHEMY!!! 

Jim Ayres
Jim Ayres

This is one of my favorite commercial interior designs in all of Houston. Can't wait to try the food.

Corey
Corey

Demise of it's own creation, what is wrong with being a tradition and sticking with what works and has for decades.  Why not throw out your christmas tree too, it's dying?!? Screw Benjys and screw their elitist snobbery, and try making some excuses for the little guy versus some yuppy-centric place that caters to the lowest common denominator of douche.

Joanna O'Leary
Joanna O'Leary

The truffle egg salad was terrific. I don't care what Gordon Ramsay says, I love 'shroom oil. Can't wait to try the bagel with salmon.

Ryan
Ryan

Nothing is wrong with tradition and sticking with what still works if you actually do that Corey. You must not be very observant however as Antone's has been running itself into the ground for years on almost all levels. Food went downhill, customer service, cleanliness, etc, etc. Your gonna kill Benji's for some alleged snobbery while the 'little guy' you stick up for was taking your business for granted, serving a deteriorating product and all with a general could 'care less' attitude. They were resting on their laurels for many years recently and became a shadow of their former great selves. Way to defend that. Your hating on the guy who is trying to give the paying customer a good quailty product but because he may be a yuppy type, which you obviously loathe, your supporting the former business that was serving a shitty product and ran their business into the ground. Nice. This is why crappy restaurants seem to always stay in business in Houston even when their product sucks: Because tools like yourself love supporting the 'little guy', even when the 'little guy' serves a crap product. You certainly have your priorities in the right place. We all want to support the 'little guy', but more important people want to support 'any guy'  that does the job well and with pride. However it seems a mensa like you can't seem to tell the difference.  

Ali
Ali

I'm a Benjy's fan. I'll wear my "lowest common denominator of douche" badge with pride.

Joanna O'Leary
Joanna O'Leary

"Elitist snobbery" : what does that even mean? The first term is bandied about and applied to anything and anyone that holds itself to some sort of standard. Allow me to echo Bill Maher: "Am I an elitist because I wear shoes?!?"

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Corey, I don't like the fact that the Antone's empire has all but crumbled either. But what does that have to do with benjy's? The Antone's family ran its own places into the ground, and that's why the Rice Village location closed. The truth sucks, but it's still the truth.

Ed T.
Ed T.

Or, am *I* an elitist because I don't (wear shoes, that is)?

Dave
Dave

Any chance we could get an article, short or long, on what happened to Antone's?  I've been eating their sandwiches for years, would kind of like to know more about their story.

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