New Locale

Cult-favorite Houston restaurant redefines 'local' with long-awaited Austin opening

Cult-favorite Houston restaurant redefines 'local' with Austin opening

The turquoise and mustard interior of Local Foods in Austin.
Local Foods is making a new home on Second Street, in a wide-open space with great foot traffic. Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley
A large spread of sandwiches, salads, and sides by Local Foods.
It's still all about the sandwiches, salads, and Ausitn ingredients. Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley
The turquoise and mustard interior of Local Foods in Austin.
A large spread of sandwiches, salads, and sides by Local Foods.

Local Foods just got even more local — to Austin. The popular Houston-based restaurant opens its first permanent Austin location on Saturday, June 25, anticipated since 2020. Technically, it’s already been here in pop-up, ghost kitchen capacity since last summer, in the space formerly occupied by Bonhomie. But this time it’s here to stay.

The new restaurant is nestled with dividers into the corner of Second and San Antonio streets in the Second Street District, an area where foot traffic is sure to bring new fans along with its Houston devotees from over a decade in business. It is a return, of sorts, as founders Benjy Levit and Dylan Murray, as well as partner Martin Berson, all went to school at the University of Texas, and are excited to make a home in Austin once again.

Berson, the long-time Austin resident, talked about that feeling in a press release announcing the pop-up in 2021. “What [Levit and Murray] have created with this unique approach to everyday sandwiches and salads is best in class in a growing space of fast-fine concepts. The local farms, vendors, and amazing Austin vibe is a perfect fit for Local Foods.”

It’s all in the name. The restaurant is committed to highlighting ingredients originating in Texas, centering relationships with “local farmers, ranchers, fishmongers, artisans, and vendors.” Most of those ingredients go into sandwiches and salads, piled high with proteins, veggies, and vegan options. Diners know that Local Foods follows the more-is-more philosophy, and these offerings may surprise someone with starker notions of health-conscious foods. (Hello, there, crushed chips on the crispy chicken sandwich!)

The expanded menu at the new brick-and-mortar looks similar, focusing on those two categories, plus some specialty sides including pozole, fruit salad, and house-made pickles. It will also offer wine and beer, the former with some non-local whims, and the latter consisting entirely of local selections including Austin brews by Fairweather Cider, Live Oak, Hops and Grain, Pinthouse, and Independence Brewing.

The beautiful new interior boasts a natural light-bathed design by Austin’s Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, turquoise accents, and woody colors. Seating spreads out over two floors and onto the patio, and the local ethos means sharing the space with plants from nearby.

Some Austin-area vendors joining the Local Foods menu are:

  • Joe’s Microgreens
  • ToGoCo
  • Hifi Mycology
  • Basic B Chai
  • Dos Lunas
  • Mill King
  • Flying Brothers Tempeh
  • Good Flow Honey
  • Vital Farms

“At Local Foods our goal is to always be a landing place and partner for local and regional farmers and purveyors, with the ultimate objective of symbiotically expanding their businesses along with ours,” said Murray in a press release about the Second Street location. “Bringing this longtime Houston favorite to Austin furthers our purpose and commitment to supporting local in an approachable, neighborhood setting.”

The new Local Foods is located at 454 W. Second St. and opens Saturday, June 25. For more information about hours and ordering, visit localfoodstexas.com.

Here in Houston, CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler named Local Foods to the coveted Top 100 list of best restaurants in the city.