I can pretty much guarantee you that if you order food to-go from a restaurant you often frequent, it will be different than what you’re used to when dining in.
The temperature of the food is usually a little off, the packaging sometimes makes a mess of your dish and every once in a while an item you ordered is missing from the bag.
Despite all of this, I still love ordering food to-go. I just recognize it as a different experience than dining in.
Amidst health concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, and restaurant restrictions imposed by the City of Houston, my eating-out habits have been kicked while to-go ordering is now in style.
Zoes Kitchen, a chain restaurant that serves Mediterranean with a modern twist, is a place I don’t mind ordering to-go from because I don’t usually have the temperature, packaging or forgotten item problems. Well, the last time I ordered to-go, they did forget to put utensils in my bag.
Delivery is also an option, but I’ve only ever ordered carry-out.
The process is simple. I like to order online, which is quick and easy and allows you to add or take out ingredients you don’t want. When you pick up, there’s no need to walk up to the counter. All to-go orders are on a shelf to the left of the entrance.
Then you grab-and-go, unless you ordered a drink, which you fill yourself.
The Greek Chicken Pita is a favorite option of mine. Grilled chicken comes wrapped in pita with spring mix, tomatoes, Tzatziki, caramelized onions and feta. On the side I get cauliflower rice and a small serving of the classic hummus.
When I recently ordered the chicken pita, it didn’t quite look like the picture that is shown on the online menu. The chicken was hidden under lots of greens and the onions were few, but looks didn’t matter. It was still warm — even after driving 15 minutes to get back to my office — and tasted good.
What makes it taste good for me is the Tzatziki, which is a type of sauce made of salted strained yogurt or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt and olive oil. What makes me like it even more is that I personally can’t tell that it’s made with any yogurt. It’s fresh and a little tangy, which goes well with the chicken.
The cauliflower rice is served cold and is not much like regular rice. It has hints of nut and a sweet undertone. The pieces of rice are also smaller and tend to be crunchier.
When it comes to hummus, I usually don’t go for the classic or “regular” kind. However, this hummus of chickpeas pureed with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt is one of my favorites. And the warm triangular pieces of pita that come with it only help.
Recently, I tried the power grain bowl. It’s a warm bowl of lentils, quinoa, farro and rice with Tzatziki, Harissa, tomato relish and fresh dill.
It traveled well.
The lentils, quinoa, farro and rice was mostly mild in earthy, nutty flavors. The Harissa, a chili pepper paste on top, gave it a spicy kick. Paired with the Tzatziki, tomato relish and dill, it combined fresh flavors with more muted ones.
Address: 250 W. 20th St.
Hours: 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. daily
Healthy options: Yes
Star of the show: Greek Chicken Pita