During the coronavirus pandemic, Houston’s chefs have been extremely busy, whether or not they’ve reopened their restaurants. The past several weeks have been a major challenge for restaurant professionals, who face a lot of uncertainty in the coming months as the pandemic rages on.
As such, the city’s top chefs have kept themselves fed with locally-born comfort food. From pepperoni pizza to top-notch Chinese food and barbecue, here’s what some of Houston’s most influential chefs are ordering for takeout and delivery right now.
Robert del Grande — Berg Hospitality Group
“I’ve been trying to learn how to cook at home without making a big mess for my wife,” del Grande says. He’s also been ordering barbecue from Goode Company and burgers from Beck’s Prime, and enjoying family meals with the staff at Berg Hospitality. “Benjamin [Berg] has picked up food from China Garden for the staff before The Annie food truck popups,” he says. “It is one of his favorite spots to get a true New York-style Chinese food fix, and it has quickly become a favorite of mine now too.”
Chris Shepherd — Underbelly Hospitality
“I’ve been trying to balance cooking at home with continuing to support local restaurants,” Shepherd says. “ I can’t go more than a week or so without eating Kata Robata. I was pretty excited about the new handroll kit we ordered this weekend. We also ordered from Rosie Cannonball last Tuesday, which was their first day back doing curbside pick-up. We went with the pepperoni pizza, an old favorite, but tried some of the new dishes as well, like the grilled cabbage—it was so good!” Shepherd’s also been picking up banh mi from Cali Sandwich for his staffers as they prep takeout orders.
Anita Jaisinghani, Pondicheri
“I love Mala Sichuan! I crave their food every once in a while, and I love that they have a large selection of vegetarian food,” says Anita Jaisinghani, a 2020 James Beard award finalist for Best Chef in Texas and chef of trendy Indian restaurant Pondicheri. Jaisinghani admits she has been far too busy to eat out, but hopes to indulge in more Indian food after some time passes. “I plan to go over to the BAPS temple in Sugar Land to get my Gujurati food fix.”
Bobby Matos — State of Grace, La Lucha, Superica
“I hit up Hughies a lot because it’s on my way home from Superica and La Lucha,” says Bobby Matos, who has been splitting his time at the neighboring Heights neighborhood restaurants while State of Grace is closed. “Also, Click Virtual Food Hall is amazing because it has so many choices and they are set up better than anyone for delivery and pickup.”
Hugo Ortega — H-Town Restaurant Group
“After a long day at work, we often grab a meal from one of our restaurants because it’s fast and easy,” says chef Hugo Ortega. Ortega’s been busy, serving takeout from his restaurants Hugo’s and Backstreet Cafe, along with developing ready-to-eat meals for HEB. “We have a pretty high grocery bill because we’ve been cooking at home mostly,” he says. “We have treated ourselves to meals from La Mexicana and Pokeworks, and we love the butter chicken from Pondicheri. It travels well.”
Danny Trace — Potente, Osso & Kristalla
“Believe it or not, I have been ordering street food from the relatives of some of our employees — tacos, tamales and pupusas. Always love to help out the familia,” Trace says. “I also love Texas barbecue, and Jackson Street BBQ is just a stone’s throw away.”
Trong Nguyen — Crawfish & Noodles
“While Crawfish & Noodles has resumed in-restaurant dining six-days a week and continues curbside service, I am driving back and forth from the shop a lot, so there are a couple of places around the corner which I order food from,” says chef-owner Trong Nguyen, woh just scored a James Beard nod in the Best Chef: Texas category. “I like to order chicken or pork noodle soup with clear broth and beef ribs with rice at Bánh Canh,” he shares. “And I like to visit A Ly Oriental Food Restaurant for lobster with pepper sauce and clear noodle soup with deep fried chicken.”
Ronnie Killen, Killen’s Restaurant Group
“I enjoy cooking and experimenting a lot in my kitchen,” says Pearland barbecue king Ronnie Killen. “When I am driving around town, I love ordering food from Kappa in Pearland — they have great Mongolian beef,” he says. “And I can’t resist the new Voodoo Doughnut in the Heights. The Voodoo doll doughnut is probably the best doughnut I have ever had.”
Kiran Verma — Kiran’s
“During the pandemic, I have enjoyed getting food for myself and my family from Woodshed Smokehouse, the new barbecue place that just opened in Levy Park,” says Kiran Verma, whose own restaurant is situated nearby. The longtime Houston restaurateur has also turned to some of the city’s most vaunted dining institutions for takeout. “I love Tony’s and Artisans.”