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The Best Affordable Takeout in Houston Right Now

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This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Like many cities, Houston’s restaurants have had their share of ups and downs during the pandemic. But a defining feature of the city’s booming takeout and delivery scene is that the options for dinner remain as diverse as ever, thanks to its many cultures and cuisines.

From world-class Texas barbecue to authentic Thai street food and Chilango street tacos, the best takeout dishes in the Bayou City fulfill just about every craving a Houstonian might have. (And there are some great deals to be found, too.) Here are the best Houston spots you should check out right away.

Be sure to check each of these spots before you go, as the state continues to adapt to new guidelines and regulations. A number of Houston restaurants have resumed dine-in service at full or 50% capacity, and this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit houstontx.gov. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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La Chingada Tacos & Tequila

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This Northside hidden gem (formerly called Unos P’nches Tacos) is known for its exceptional handmade flour tortillas, delicious breakfast tacos, and fresh horchata — not to mention the eye-catching grackle art on the restaurant’s exterior. The picadillo tacos can’t be beat, but definitely add a bowl of menudo or tamales if it’s the weekend.

Two tacos from the Houston restaurant La Chingada Tacos & Tequila.
Courtesy of La Chingada Tacos & Tequila

Pinkerton's Barbecue

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Although the days of lining up for pitmaster Grant Pinkerton’s mega-sized beef ribs and tender brisket have come to a temporary halt, the curbside game is strong at his down-home Heights joint, with the full menu available until it sells out. Whether you go big with a rack of glazed ribs or keep it simple with pulled pork and sausage, add sides of creamy jalapeno rice (his granny’s recipe) and smoky charro beans.

Phat Eatery

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The entire menu is available to go at this buzzy Malaysian eatery in Katy, including all the greatest hits: tender roti flatbread, jumbo prawns, grilled fish wrapped in banana leaf, and even dim sum. Now, there are also party trays of popular satay and curries available, a “today and tomorrow” meal (you’ll get a dish that’s ready to eat now, and one vacuum sealed for later), plus pints of handmade durian and Malaysian milk tea ice cream. 

A noodle dish in a metal bowl, with chopsticks, from Phat Eatery in Katy, Texas.
Courtesy of Phat Eatery

JCI-James Coney Island (Town and Country)

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In 1923, two Greek brothers started a hot dog stand downtown that became a Houston institution. Today, JCI is an empire of 17 drive-thrus that still serve up those iconic coney dogs topped with chili, chopped onion, and cheese, alongside a menu of gourmet dogs, parmesan garlic fries, and Greek salad. Regulars know to keep an eye out for monthly specials that can get you a coney dog for under a dollar.

A coney dog, onion rings, tots, sauce, and soda from the restaurant JCI-James Coney Island (Town and Country).
Courtesy of JCI-James Coney Island (Town and Country)

La Calle Tacos

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Whether stuffed with juicy al pastor or tart, fresh shrimp ceviche, this downtown taqueria’s street tacos, served on fresh corn tortillas, are some of the finest in Houston.  On Tuesdays, they’re just $1 per taco. Orders come with a side of smooth, spicy birria — homemade beef consommé — for dipping, an additional added bonus.

A dish from La Calle Tacos in Houston.
Courtesy of La Calle Tacos

Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

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Known for its traditional red and white Neapolitan pies, the brick oven takes just 90 seconds to wood-fire Calabrese, Margherita, and other adventurous pizza creations. The pizzeria also offers solid takes on crisp New York pies and Detroit deep-dish. With one of the best Caesar salads in town, made with crunchy croutons and homemade dressing suited for anchovy-lovers, it’s a definite must for any order. Don’t forget the Cokes to go.

Antone's

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At Antone’s, the po’ boy remains true to its roots as an extraordinarily hefty sandwich wrapped up and served to-go, but with a Houston twist, of course. The bestselling original po’ boy (a favorite here since 1962) has tangy chow chow dressing up a stack of cold ham, salami, provolone, and dill pickles. You’ll also find gyros and hummus on the menu, alongside other takes on po’ boys — hot chopped beef brisket is a hit — and classic New Orleans fare.

Courtesy of Antone’s

Street to Kitchen

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It’s all about shrimp pad Thai, drunken noodles, and authentic Thai street food at this new East End drive-thru from Benchawan Jabthong Painter, a Thailand native. Her incredible fried chicken keeps stealing the show thanks to its salty, crisp skin topped with fried shallots, and chutney-like Thai chile cilantro and sweet chile sauce for dipping.

Courtesy of Street to Kitchen

Krazy Katsu & Udon

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Not even a pandemic can stop the katsu craze, especially at this downtown Korean cuisine takeout hub of all things panko-breaded and fried. You can get in on the katsu sando fad here, but the big plates of schnitzel-like pork, prawns, and cheese katsu are just as popular, each coming in hot with a side of udon soup, curry, or a house salad and macaroni.

Sarpino's Pizzeria

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With an extensive menu of specialty pies (super taco pizza, anyone?), wings, and cheesy breadsticks, ordering from this Braeswood pizzeria has you need for a great game day or weekend movie night. A deep menu of fresh calzones, pastas, and salads also round out the mix to include something for everybody in the friend group. Remember to order enough Cokes for everyone. 

Aga's Restaurant & Catering

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Part of the charm of this palatial, all-halal Indian-Pakistani eatery has always been watching sizzling meats arrive at the table, but the secret is out: Aga’s famed, grilled dishes also travel extraordinarily well to your house. Round out your order with an array of curries that can easily be split between two people and the fun, fiery “bullet” naan seasoned with jalapenos and cilantro.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

La Chingada Tacos & Tequila

Two tacos from the Houston restaurant La Chingada Tacos & Tequila.
Courtesy of La Chingada Tacos & Tequila

This Northside hidden gem (formerly called Unos P’nches Tacos) is known for its exceptional handmade flour tortillas, delicious breakfast tacos, and fresh horchata — not to mention the eye-catching grackle art on the restaurant’s exterior. The picadillo tacos can’t be beat, but definitely add a bowl of menudo or tamales if it’s the weekend.

Two tacos from the Houston restaurant La Chingada Tacos & Tequila.
Courtesy of La Chingada Tacos & Tequila

Pinkerton's Barbecue

Although the days of lining up for pitmaster Grant Pinkerton’s mega-sized beef ribs and tender brisket have come to a temporary halt, the curbside game is strong at his down-home Heights joint, with the full menu available until it sells out. Whether you go big with a rack of glazed ribs or keep it simple with pulled pork and sausage, add sides of creamy jalapeno rice (his granny’s recipe) and smoky charro beans.

Phat Eatery

A noodle dish in a metal bowl, with chopsticks, from Phat Eatery in Katy, Texas.
Courtesy of Phat Eatery

The entire menu is available to go at this buzzy Malaysian eatery in Katy, including all the greatest hits: tender roti flatbread, jumbo prawns, grilled fish wrapped in banana leaf, and even dim sum. Now, there are also party trays of popular satay and curries available, a “today and tomorrow” meal (you’ll get a dish that’s ready to eat now, and one vacuum sealed for later), plus pints of handmade durian and Malaysian milk tea ice cream. 

A noodle dish in a metal bowl, with chopsticks, from Phat Eatery in Katy, Texas.
Courtesy of Phat Eatery

JCI-James Coney Island (Town and Country)

A coney dog, onion rings, tots, sauce, and soda from the restaurant JCI-James Coney Island (Town and Country).
Courtesy of JCI-James Coney Island (Town and Country)

In 1923, two Greek brothers started a hot dog stand downtown that became a Houston institution. Today, JCI is an empire of 17 drive-thrus that still serve up those iconic coney dogs topped with chili, chopped onion, and cheese, alongside a menu of gourmet dogs, parmesan garlic fries, and Greek salad. Regulars know to keep an eye out for monthly specials that can get you a coney dog for under a dollar.

A coney dog, onion rings, tots, sauce, and soda from the restaurant JCI-James Coney Island (Town and Country).
Courtesy of JCI-James Coney Island (Town and Country)

La Calle Tacos

A dish from La Calle Tacos in Houston.
Courtesy of La Calle Tacos

Whether stuffed with juicy al pastor or tart, fresh shrimp ceviche, this downtown taqueria’s street tacos, served on fresh corn tortillas, are some of the finest in Houston.  On Tuesdays, they’re just $1 per taco. Orders come with a side of smooth, spicy birria — homemade beef consommé — for dipping, an additional added bonus.

A dish from La Calle Tacos in Houston.
Courtesy of La Calle Tacos

Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

Known for its traditional red and white Neapolitan pies, the brick oven takes just 90 seconds to wood-fire Calabrese, Margherita, and other adventurous pizza creations. The pizzeria also offers solid takes on crisp New York pies and Detroit deep-dish. With one of the best Caesar salads in town, made with crunchy croutons and homemade dressing suited for anchovy-lovers, it’s a definite must for any order. Don’t forget the Cokes to go.

Antone's

Courtesy of Antone’s

At Antone’s, the po’ boy remains true to its roots as an extraordinarily hefty sandwich wrapped up and served to-go, but with a Houston twist, of course. The bestselling original po’ boy (a favorite here since 1962) has tangy chow chow dressing up a stack of cold ham, salami, provolone, and dill pickles. You’ll also find gyros and hummus on the menu, alongside other takes on po’ boys — hot chopped beef brisket is a hit — and classic New Orleans fare.

Courtesy of Antone’s

Street to Kitchen

Courtesy of Street to Kitchen

It’s all about shrimp pad Thai, drunken noodles, and authentic Thai street food at this new East End drive-thru from Benchawan Jabthong Painter, a Thailand native. Her incredible fried chicken keeps stealing the show thanks to its salty, crisp skin topped with fried shallots, and chutney-like Thai chile cilantro and sweet chile sauce for dipping.

Courtesy of Street to Kitchen

Krazy Katsu & Udon

Not even a pandemic can stop the katsu craze, especially at this downtown Korean cuisine takeout hub of all things panko-breaded and fried. You can get in on the katsu sando fad here, but the big plates of schnitzel-like pork, prawns, and cheese katsu are just as popular, each coming in hot with a side of udon soup, curry, or a house salad and macaroni.

Sarpino's Pizzeria

With an extensive menu of specialty pies (super taco pizza, anyone?), wings, and cheesy breadsticks, ordering from this Braeswood pizzeria has you need for a great game day or weekend movie night. A deep menu of fresh calzones, pastas, and salads also round out the mix to include something for everybody in the friend group. Remember to order enough Cokes for everyone. 

Aga's Restaurant & Catering

Part of the charm of this palatial, all-halal Indian-Pakistani eatery has always been watching sizzling meats arrive at the table, but the secret is out: Aga’s famed, grilled dishes also travel extraordinarily well to your house. Round out your order with an array of curries that can easily be split between two people and the fun, fiery “bullet” naan seasoned with jalapenos and cilantro.

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