Only in Houston would “try it on for size” take on a whole new double meaning.
By Joanna O’Leary
It’s no coincidence that shopping, Saturday, and Sunday all start with the same letter. The weekend is prime time for retail therapy, and while you’re engaged in conspicuous consumption, why not extend the binge to include edibles from street-side food trucks to fuel your purchases? Hint: Chow down after you try on that super-tight cocktail dress. Or not. The bites these trucks are vending taste better than skinny feels.
While there are good things to buy all over H-town, certain areas are becoming known for their convergence of great fashion and food—both of which you can get “to go,” thanks to the sheer density of quality food trucks in these locales.
Montrose, the hipster epicenter of Houston, is the place to find vintage and classic clothing, shoes, and jewelry, thanks to a cluster of exchanges, consignment shops, and antique dealerships, many of which can be found near the very walkable Westheimer “curve.” Also dotting this promenade is a series of quality mobile eateries. Early birds should seek out Breakfast Burritos Anonymous for massive tortilla missiles stuffed with your preferred protein (ham, pork or turkey sausage, bacon, eggs, etc.), cheese, veggies (you must get the sautéed mushrooms), and six different types of salsa, including one called “Magma,” whose heat may sear off your taste buds . . . in a good way. For lunch or late-afternoon fare, hit up Koagie Hots. The Korean-American theme of this popular truck manifests itself in tantalizing marinated pork cheesesteaks, beer-battered corndogs with sweet chili sauce, and loaded kimchi French fries.
Waaaay farther out on Westheimer, couture meets cuisine at the Galleria. But skip the overpriced “small plates,” steakhouses, and chain joints in favor of restaurants-on-wheels that can be found at the perimeter of this retail mecca. Foreign Policy food truck offers pita sandwiches, burgers with global toppings like gyro meat, jalapeños, kimchi, and feta cheese—and for dessert, a donut doused with Mexican caramel and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. The mobile branch of Churrascos, often spotted around the Sage and Hidalgo intersections, features oversized Brazilian sandwiches that will easily cure the inevitable starvation that comes from trying on endless pairs of shoes. The “House Special Picanha” is brimming with juicy grilled sirloin, tomatoes, tangy red onions, avocado, and crisp romaine lettuce, while the pork tenderloin sammie is layered with salty parmesan cheese and a South American-style coleslaw, which you’ll want to replicate for your next barbecue instead of the usual overly-mayonnaise-y American version.
Thanks to a recent facelift, Rice Village is now home to an array of locally owned boutiques (Chloe Dao, The Impeccable Pig), as well as brand-name outlets (Kate Spade, Talbots). Parking can be dicey, which is all the more reason not to give up that valuable spot to go in search of lunch or supper. Fortunately, a number of food trucks dot the interior as well as the outskirts of the Village, presenting opportunities to sample food as you stroll and shop. Treat yourself and get dessert first—an ice cream cookie sandwich at Smoosh (such as the oatmeal cookie with butter pecan ice cream and crushed bacon), and a donut or churro at The Dough Cone. Toppings, which include sunflower seeds, gummy bears, whoppers, Heath bar bits, cappuccino wafers, and blueberries, are unlimited, so go nuts (they offer those, too, by the way). Round out that sugar rush with a burger on a bun made of ramen noodles or Asian-spiced chicken quesadilla from Oh My Gogi! or end a long, long day of shopping with a nightcap at Yo-Yo’s Dogs. Yo-Yo Ma may be king of the cello, but this Yo-Yo is master of the hot dog. After grilling your plump, juicy dog to snappy perfection, he slaps it into a toasted bun, piles it with caramelized onions and a bevy of sauces such as curry ketchup, piquant mayonnaise, and even (if you want, which you do) some cream cheese. Your stomach is full and your credit cards are maxed out, so now it’s time for bed.
Joanna O’Leary is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine and a freelance food and travel writer based in Houston. Her exploits are chronicled on brideyoleary.com.