KENNY & ZIGGY’S West University
5172 Buffalo Speedway | 832.767.1136 | www.kennyandziggys.com
Mon–Thur: 7am–9pm; Fri: 7am–10pm; Sat: 8am–10pm; Sun: 8am–9pm
With the closing of Carnegie Deli late last year, the world lamented the loss of the classic deli. Fortunately, in Houston, the deli world has gotten brighter. Ziggy Gruber, the third-generation delicatessen maven, recently opened a second Kenny & Ziggy’s near West University Place. Known for gargantuan sandwiches with pun-inspired names, breakfast platters served all day and eastern European comfort foods (pierogis, knishes, kreplach), Kenny & Ziggy’s is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Located off Buffalo Speedway at Westpark, it is easy to find, with more than adequate parking.
Though a slightly smaller space than its Galleria counterpart, the portions served are definitely not smaller. The One in a Minyon, a triple decker with turkey, corned beef and Swiss with Russian dressing, covered the plate and provided enough food for a nosh later that night as well. The added cole slaw on the sandwich provided a welcome crunch. For comfort food, I chose the Short Rib Stroganoff over the Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage or Goulash. Not slighting the others mind you, but the short ribs take this simple dish over the top. The beef chunks were spoon tender, the mushroom sour cream gravy savory and rich, bringing back childhood memories of my best friend’s Hungarian mother. Good memories.
And then there was dessert. Yes, to go. (The only way to make it to dessert for certain is to start with it.) The oversized piece of cheesecake with whole strawberries served three of us later that evening. Tangy and sweet, and a perfect graham cracker crust.
I know that the Jewish faith doesn’t include Heaven as a destination. That may be because places like Kenny & Ziggy’s provide a little bit of Heaven every day to their diners. Just with a slice of cheesecake to go.
LOCAL FOODS Downtown
CUISINE: Gourmet sandwich shop
420 Main Street | 713.227.0531 | www.houstonlocalfoods.com
Open 7 Days a Week: 10am–8pm
One of the challenges facing local restaurants is providing new locations with their something that sets them apart. Benjy Levit and Dylan Murray have done extremely well in taking Local Foods, a gourmet sandwich shop in the Village, and transforming it slightly with each new space.
The Downtown version is my favorite. Geoff Hundt, a sous chef who has worked with benjy’s for years, has created somewhere to go from lunch until bedtime.
The design alone sets Downtown apart from its counterparts. Seating against the windows on two levels surrounds a large and comfortable bar in the middle of the restaurant. The architects kept the blue and green color scheme of Byrd’s department store, enhancing it with a waterfront theme. With a raw bar, seafood appetizers and killer craft cocktails as part of its Happy Hour program, Downtown is ready to serve all day long.
I focused on the raw bar and small plates and was thoroughly satisfied. Oyster shooters with the housemade Bloody Mary mix had the perfect blend of spice and salt. The octopus salad with feta, cucumber and preserved lemon had the tender bites of octopus usually found at higher-end Mexican seafood places. The snapper ceviche was fresh and tangy. The surprise for me though, was the edamame and spinach dip. I wasn’t sure how the soybeans would work. Served with naan, the flavors and texture blended incredibly well.
The craft cocktails fit well with the seafood. Made with Texas liquors and local ingredients, there is something for everyone. The Old Mary, using the spicy homemade mix, plenty of Old Bay and 1876 Vodka, was particularly delicious.
While I know that I will still go to the Village, I have a great option for a business lunch or Happy Hour before Astros games or TUTS. OK, really Astros games, but with this kind of Happy Hour, you don’t need an excuse.
JERRY BUILT West University
| 3501 W. Holcombe Blvd. | 281.974.2747 | www.jerrybuiltburgers.com
Sun–Thurs: 11am–9pm; Fri–Sat: 11am–10pm
When Jerry Built Burgers first opened in West University in 2009, my kids and I were some of Chad Glauser’s first customers, and have been hooked. Jerry Built’s success comes from Glauser’s desire to be better every day: Using local farmers and ranchers for the freshest ingredients, having an open kitchen design so that the customers can see the buns being made from scratch, switching from a microphone calling out names written on the bags (my son was always “Mr. McAwesome”) to an electronic tracking system to let diners stay seated. All of these measures make the fast-casual concept at Jerry Built’s two locations (West U. and Memorial City) stand out.
The stars of the show, as one would expect, are the burgers. The classic Jerry’s Cheeseburger, Bacon Avocado, Mushroom Swiss or my favorite – Ernie’s Bacon Cheddar BBQ (Ernie’s sauce, bacon, cheddar, grilled onions and a killer BBQ sauce) – are exceptional. Glauser has the meat specially ground for the restaurant, ensuring that each handmade patty will be up to his high standards.
To go with the burgers, the chili cheese fries, sweet potato fries and grilled sweet corn are great options. For me though, it’s the fried pickles. Lightly spiced, fried crispy and served with homemade ranch dressing, they are wonderful. Order the large plate, though, if you think you might need to share.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the milkshakes, Mr. McAwesome’s favorite thing on the menu. The hand-spun milkshakes blend the ingredients to that perfect state of creamy and smooth from the first sip to the last.
Jerry Built’s dedication to providing a great burger with a very family-friendly setting will keep my family as customers. The desire to make it better promises to keep everyone happy for years to come.