Gourmet Sandwich Shop Grows

Gourmet sandwich shop expands into Houston's hot new grocery store and restaurant epicenter — with a pizza twist

Gourmet sandwich shop expands into Houston's new grocery store hotbed

Local Foods neon sign interior
Local Foods will add pizzas to the menu when it opens its third location in Tanglewood this fall. Photo by Cody Lee/Google Plus

Two months into 2015, it's becoming increasingly clear that Tanglewood is emerging as Houston's next hot dining destination. H-E-B will open its first Houston restaurant Table 57 on Wednesday, and nearby Briar Grove will soon see additions from Glass Wall/Pax Americana owner Shepard Ross with The Del and Randy Rucker's Bramble.

Now, another Inside The Loop favorite is heading west — gourmet sandwich shop Local Foods will open a third location in the same Gables development that's already home to Dish Society.

Owner Benjy Levit tells CultureMap that his inspiration to open his fifth restaurant (he also owns both locations of Benjy's) in Tanglewood came from his mother. "My mom has lived in the area for the past 20 years or so. We go out to eat there at least once a week."

 "The idea is to bring an inner city feeling to outside the Loop."  

Encouraged by his mother to explore adding Local Foods to the neighborhood, Levit says he discovered favorable demographics and a suitable location. He cites the success of casual, healthy-oriented concepts like Dish Society and Adair Kitchen as evidence that Local Foods will be viable there, too. "We think there's room for our concept," Levit says.

"We like that it's outside the Loop, because we think it's a different market than our other two locations," Levit adds. Since he only signed the lease last week, it's difficult to determine how long the build out will take, but Levit's shooting for an October or November opening.

Celebrated Austin-based architect Michael Hsu (Uchi, Hunky Dory) is handling design. "The idea is to bring an inner city feeling to outside the Loop," Levit says.   

Just as the Upper Kirby location added to the original's selection of sandwiches and seasonal vegetable side dishes with new rotisserie items, the new location's innovation will be a wood-burning pizza oven. As at Benjy's, the pizza dough will be made in house. Levit describes the pizzas as "West Coast-style," with a thin crust, lots of vegetable toppings and not too much cheese.

The new location will also feature an increased emphasis on beer and wine with a larger bar than either of the other two.   

Asked about whether he's already scouting for a fourth Local Foods location, Levit demurs. "This one is new for us, because it's quite a bit larger," he says. "It may take us a bit of time to wrap our arms around this location."