Like That Chain Restaurant? Try This Local One Instead (Part II)

doubledouble.jpg
Photo by Brooke Viggiano
There's no need to wish for In-N-Out's Double Double. We promise.
Maybe your friend is obsessed with Cheesecake Factory. Maybe your kids scream for nuggets every time you pass Chik-fil-A (we don't blame them), but you don't exactly agree with their politics. Maybe you're just in one giant, chain-restaurant-filled eating rut.

We've urged you to step away from the big chains in lieu of local alternatives once before in our first Like That Chain Restaurant? Try This Local One Instead post.

Well, we're back at it again with another chance for you and your loved ones to try something new and support the community at the same time.

Check out these local alternatives to popular chain restaurants:

kirbyside.jpg
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
You won't find this level of chicken at KFC.
If you like: KFC
Try: Haven

After getting a taste of Haven, you'll never want KFC again. You can get a family-sized pack of Chef Randy Evans's heavenly buttermilk-fried chicken -- along with two pint-sized sides, six rolls with butter, and andouille cream gravy -- for $35. The restaurant even offers "Kirby-side" pick-up, which delivers the meal-for-four straight to your car, every day of the week after 5:00 p.m. Try sides like creamed mustard greens with tasso ham, fried green tomato croutons, or pecan-smoked bacon spaetzle alongside some of the best fried (or herb-roasted) chicken in town. Even better? The incredibly juicy and tender chicken is both free-range and organic...this is Haven after all.

Alternate choices: Al Aseel , Frenchy's, Funky Chicken, Toreore (update: closed)

If you like: In-N-Out Burger
Try: The Hay Merchant/Underbelly

Don't yell. Some people do love In-N-Out burgers despite there being a perfectly amazing, Texas-born-and-raised chain available all around town. It's no doubt because of their infamous double-patty burger, the Double-Double...but you don't have to leave town to get it. That's because Chef Chris Shepherd unknowingly re-created the burger at Underbelly.

Having never been to In-N-Out, Shepherd named his double-meat, double-cheese burger the "UB Double Double". That is, until the restaurant received a cease-and-desist letter from the California-based chain demanding a name change. Lawsuits aside, the " Cease and Desist Burger" is now available at Hay Merchant and occasionally during lunch hours at Underbelly (the menu changes often). And true to Chris Shepherd fashion, the lusciously legal burger is made with locally grown produce.

Alternate choices: Christian's Tailgate, Hubcap Grill, Whataburger (obviously)

CaliforniaDreamin.jpg
Photo by Stacey Zane
Get fresh, made-to-order sandwiches without yoga-mat-infused bread at Spec's Deli.
If you like: Subway
Try: Spec's Deli

Skip the sad, limp sandwiches at Subway and "eat fresh" at Houston-owned and family-run Spec's Deli instead. Yes, the unlikely sandwich shop is located inside a liquor store, but we can assure you this deli whips out some of the best sliced-to-order sandwiches in town. Build-your-own sandwich or go with house favorites like the Reuben to Die for, stuffed with hot corned beef, sauerkraut and Russian dressing; or the California Dreamin', with sliced turkey, Havarti, avocado, cucumber and sprouts. Both sandwiches are loaded with one-third of a pound of meat for a reasonable $7.99.

Alternate choices: Antone's Po'Boys, Revival Market

If you like: Chik-fil-A
Try: Super Chicken

Good news! This homegrown chicken joint is just like Chik-fil-A, only better. That's because in addition to using fresh ingredients and being open on Sundays, they make a mean crispy chicken. Get the tenders on po' boys, in made-to-order salads, or order 3- to 6-pieces alongside dips like creamy horseradish and the namesake "super sauce". But the fowl play doesn't stop there; grilled chicken sandwiches, soups, and chicken salad round out the menu, while sides like jalapeño-studded Texas slaw and fresh broccoli salad with bacon, almonds, and raisins wow. And screw Chik-fil-A's wimpy waffle fries; Super Chicken makes the cross-hatched spuds in sweet potato form.

Alternate choices: Fried chicken sliders at Lankford Grocery, Max's Wine Dive

This story continues on the next page.


Location Info

Al Aseel

8619 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Frenchy's Chicken

3919 Scott St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette

4224 San Felipe St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Petite Sweets

2700 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kenny & Ziggy's Delicatessen Restaurant

2327 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Super H Mart

1302 Blalock Road, Houston, TX

Category: General

Saint Dane's Bar & Grille

502 Elgin, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Pub Fiction

2303 Smith, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Lucky's Pub

801 St. Emanuel, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Whataburger

3712 S. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Funky Chicken

181 Height Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Pluckers Wing Bar

1400 Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Underbelly

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Liberty Kitchen

1050 Studewood St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Hubcap Grill

1133 W. 19th, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Spec's Deli

2410 Smith, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Antone's Po'Boys

2724 T.C. Jester, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Revival Market

550 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Christian's Tailgate Grill & Bar (Midtown)

2000 Bagby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Haven - CLOSED

2502 Algerian Way, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Super Chicken

414 N. Sam Houston Parkway E., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Lankford Grocery and Market

88 Dennis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Max's Wine Dive

4720 Washington Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Local Foods

2424 Dunstan Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Carter & Cooley Company

375 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kraftsmen Cafe

611 W. 22nd St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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My Voice Nation Help
24 comments
theo
theo

An embarrassed and skeptical me says there is more fun in reversing this post: High-Falutin' Foods Had for a Fraction at these Chain Restaurants.

Mike DuPree
Mike DuPree

How about try mytiburger, AAA kitchen, Barbecue Inn. Real classic staples, not food hipster trendy spots. Shit list

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

I'm still proud that I got y'all to love the California Dreamin' sandwich as much as me, although it used to be 1/2 lb of meat at $5.99.  Oh, well. 

As to Haven?  Why would anyone pay $35 for the chicken there when less than a mile away you can get the fantastic chicken at Randall's on Westheimer and Shepherd for $8-10? 

Brooke Viggiano
Brooke Viggiano

try little bitty burger barn, reef's happy hour $1 sliders (like little big's but better), christian's tailgate

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Good recommendations, the only problem here is on most of these suggestions they are easily twice the price or more. Well worth it, probably.

Derek Woodard
Derek Woodard

Do you got something close to White Castle????? Besides little bigs

jimbo1126
jimbo1126

The one time I had Haven's fried chicken it was burned. The one time I had Hay Merchant's burger I had to take a picture to send to Merriam Webster as an illustration for the word "average" in the new edition.


Otherwise, fantastic list!

Peggy Lane
Peggy Lane

This article should have had 2 suggestion categories - similar and splurge. Haven vs KFC? HM/UB vs In and Out? The chains are fast food joints, the others aren't in either quality or price. I love out places but be a little more apples to apples please.

Chic_Chick_Eats
Chic_Chick_Eats

Glad to see this series back. Great suggestions! FYI Toreore is closed. It closed in the fall of 2013.

AlanChokov
AlanChokov

This is the 2nd mention of Al Aseel in 2 days, once on here, once on the other local magazine/website. I'm glad that they're getting the recognition they deserve, it's the best Halal fried chicken in the city.

kagan34
kagan34

@FattyFatBastard  

With all due respect, that chicken at Randall's that was regaled for a year or two way back when, was rather middling when I tried it recently, certainly less than Popeye's run of the mill very good stuff. You must've had the munchies, living close by and lucked into the right time of day. So you're excused for that.


Try the Turkey sandwich with Harvarti at the same Randall's next time: better than Spec's California Dreamin', and you don't have to endure in-store Spec's vanity radio.

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@gossamersixteen  

I was thinking that too but was reluctant to say so out of fear of being called cheap.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@AlanChokov The halal crispy chicken sandwich at busy boy deli is also superb.. But agreed on Al Aseel -- delicious.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

I've been getting the chicken at Randall's for a couple of years now. It has always been solid. As to a Randall s sandwich vs. Specs? Please.

theo
theo

@FattyFatBastard But you're the fella who wrote that Zabak's was a 'solid choice'. High tread, low cred.

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