How to Hack Taco Bell's Naked Chicken Chalupa
1. Midnight Masterpiece
BB's CafeAddress and Info
Montrose (& other locations)
Made with chuck slow-roasted for five to six hours, then shaved into “debris” a la the Big Easy’s famed Mother’s Restaurant, this all-American hero is a masterpiece any time of day. That debris, by the way, soaks up all of the gravy before it’s loaded into French bread and dressed to the nines with BB’s spicy mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. While you should most def get it in po-boy form, also order the roast beef atop fries topped with chile con queso, because we’re in Houston, not New Orleans.
2. Double Donut Fried Chicken Sandwich
Lee's Fried Chicken & DonutsAddress and Info
The only thing better than fried bird in the morning is fried bird in the morning stacked inside not one, but two freshly fried and glazed donut buns that taste like absolute heaven. Get the sandwich all day long, especially if you’re planning a nice long nap shortly thereafter.
3. The Zombie
Cafe THAddress and Info
Sure, you can get a damn fine banh mi filled with juicy pork meatballs, char-grilled pork, or chicken, and things like jambon, bacon, steamed pork, pate, peppercorn ham, fried eggs, hand-churned French butter, fresh cilantro, jalapeño, and pickled veg. But you can also get a damn fine banh mi filled with ALL OF THE ABOVE in the form of the foot-long Zombie topped with a mouth-burning ghost chili spread. This is a bucket list, after all.
4. Kitchen Sink
Gatlin's BBQAddress and Info
Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
You may be tempted by pit boss Greg Gatlin’s trio of smoked ribs (as you should be), but you need to try the off-the-menu, fully loaded "kitchen sink" sandwich at least once in your life. It’s got smoked brisket, house-made spicy sausage, grilled jalapeños and onions, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and giblet-laden dirty rice so filthy you’ll need a cold shower afterward.
5. Ten Chicken Sandwich
Bismillah Restaurant & CafeAddress and Info
Do not be fooled by Bismillah’s zero-frills appearance. The kitchen is coming in hot with a Pakistani 10-spice blend-coated chicken sandwich that will test the hell out of your heat tolerance. Don’t be a baby. You can always BYOB to cool things off.
6. Meatball sub
Pi PizzaAddress and Info
If you missed Sandy Witch sandwiches, you can stop fretting, because they’re back at Pi Pizza’s haute brick-and-mortar spot on Yale. The house meatballs can stand on their own, so adding made-from-scratch marinara, a duo of mozzarella and provolone, pickled cherry pepper mayo, and crusty carbs to the mix obviously takes things to a nirvana level of awesomeness. There’s also a cheesesteak stromboli with made-from-scratch whiz that isn’t exactly a sandwich, but is worth a mention nonetheless.
7. Lobster Friday Lobster Roll
Bernie's Burger BusAddress and Info
Bellaire (& Katy)
Every now and then, burger demi-god and chef Justin Turner invites us to skip the burgers altogether and dive headfirst into a Maine-style lobster roll that takes serious chunks of lobster, tosses them with dreamy house-made mayo, celery, and onion, and gently bundles it all inside a warm, butter-toasted split bun. If you see the invite, kindly accept.
8. Cevap Sandwich
Cafe PitaAddress and Info
Westchase (& Galleria)
You’ll find basically every slice of the globe represented in this melting pot of a city, one of those slices being Bosnia at Cafe Pita. The cafe’s terrifyingly addictive, soft, and doughy lepinja bread can be used to sop up sauces, dips, and soups; or, it can be dipped in beef broth, griddled, and used as a vehicle for the crazy-good, spiced ground beef sausages and creamy feta cheese spread, a la the Cevap Sandwich.
9. Fried Egg Sandwich
MAX's Wine DiveAddress and Info
Washington (& Montrose)
Breakfast sandwiches don’t get better than this MWD stunner. With a calorie count that’s best left in the dark, the monster number shows off with a trio of yolk-dripping eggs, a hefty pile of applewood smoked bacon, beautifully melty Gruyère, Parm-Reggiano, and fried cheddar, some umami in the form of black truffle aioli, and two slices of griddled, buttery-as-all-hell sourdough that, against all odds, manages to hold it all together. It’s available all day long at both locations, as is the Champagne you’re popping along with it.
10. 24 Hr Sous Vide Pork Belly Banh Mi
Les Ba'getAddress and Info
Paris meets Saigon and Houston at this tiny Montrose kitchen. The whole lineup of banh mi is divine, especially the mind-numbingly moist, fatty pork belly number, which gets a 24-hour sous vide bath before being nestled inside a daily baked French loaf (or a croissant, if you so desire) with a few of its banh mi friends: duck pâté, truffle aioli, thin sheets of cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, scallion, cilantro, and jalapeño.
11. Hot Chicken Sandwich
State of GraceAddress and Info
The humble fried chicken sandwich gets the K-town hot chicken treatment at this H-town cool kid. After a generous dip in batter, the bird takes a double dip in the fryer, then another dip into some tangy Korean-style hot sauce. To finish, there's a cool Thai herb slaw and a big ol’ pile of freshly cut and fried potato chips.
12. Truffled Egg Salad
Local FoodsAddress and Info
Upper Kirby (& Rice Village & Tanglewood)
This ain’t a Sunday picnic egg salad. Yes, there’s mayo, but it’s an awesome, truffle-laced aioli made in-house. Sure, there’s bread, but it’s a soft, delicious, local Slow Dough pretzel bun. And of course there are hard-boiled eggs: farm-fresh ones that are perfectly cooked and tossed with that truffled aioli and some Parmesan for good measure.
13. Ray's Fried Catfish
State FareAddress and Info
Inspired by the father of Cherry Pie Hospitality’s Jim Mills, this fried catfish sandwich is a throwback to better days. The kitchen gets catfish straight from Mississippi, rolls it in his father’s special mix of yellow mustard and white wine, then coats it in seasoned cornmeal and breadcrumbs, and deep fries that baby ‘til it’s flawlessly crisp and crusty. Good ol’ American cheese, tartar, and iceberg are all the sandwich needs. Oh, and a nice cold beer.
14. Classic grilled cheese
Golden GrillAddress and Info
Fact: Grilled cheese is delicious. Also fact: Carnitas are delicious. If A=B and B=C, then... wait, we’re bad at math. Basically, this food truck’s carnitas grilled cheese -- a playground for slow-roasted pork, apple jam, pepper jack, and some pickles -- is legitimately good stuff. Track down the truck to try it and a s’mores grilled cheese while you’re at it, because D also equals B... or something like that.
15. Surf & Turf Po-Boy
The Cajun StopAddress and Info
EaDo (& Spring)
No need to wait until crawfish season to visit this Cajun-style hole in the wall. The po-boys and frozen daiquiris will hit the spot year-round. LA native and owner Lisa Carnley brings out the big guns for all the cult favorites, stuffed with crispy fried Gulf shrimp, extra-sloppy roast beef, or all of the above, if you're into the whole surf & turf thing. Hint: You should be.
16. Triple Decker
Kenny & Ziggy’sAddress and Info
Galleria (& West University)
There are far too many things to nosh on at this NY delicatessen (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but since we have to choose between authentic Jewish deli meats, we’re going to have to go with the… JUST KIDDING WE DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE! You do. Though since we’re here to help, we’ll divulge this: Get your rye bread grilled, schmear on Russian dressing, and make sure the house-smoked pastrami is at least one of the meats involved.
17. Build Your Own Hand-Packed Gyro
Helen Greek Food & WineAddress and Info
You’ll find most gyros in the States stacked with lamb or beef, but pork is also a traditional filling. Over at Helen in Rice Village, that pork is of the local, Black Hills Ranch variety. All the flavor-packed pork shoulder needs is a cradle (a warm, buttery pita), some ripe tomato and red onion, and a whole ton of the house tzatziki, because it’s that good and you’ll need more for your oregano fries, anyway. The Hellenic sandwich is best served with a selection from the second-largest Hellenic wine list in the country, obviously.
Common BondAddress and Info
Common Bond doesn’t screw around when it comes to carbs. Every loaf, croissant and pastry is made from scratch, baked in-house fresh daily, and just begging to be taken home with you. Do that, and enjoy some sit-down carbs right on the spot. The Cubano sandwich is on-point, with shreds of tender smoked pork, ham, nutty provolone, whole grain mustard, and pickled jalapeño bringing the wow factor along with the flawless, crusty ciabatta.
19. Hot Chicken Honey Butter Biscuit
Revival MarketAddress and Info
Spice lovers unite for this sandwich made with local honey and Memphis-style chicken absolutely smothered in sauce. When Revival Market calls this thing hot, it's keeping it 100. Like, tongue-scorching, face-melting, sweat-through-your-tank-top 100. Hope you brought a change of clothes.
Carter & Cooley Company DelicatessenAddress and Info
Sometimes, we borrow ideas from our neighbors, then completely change them into something completely different. Such is the case with this old-school sandwich shop’s take on the Louisiana staple, the muffuletta. The sandwich uses doughy focaccia as the base, then presses it panini-style to give it enough oomph to hold up the filling: sliced ham and cotta salami, an excellent house-made olive salad, and a duo of Swiss and provolone cheese. It’s not exactly what you’d find in NOLA, and we’re OK with that.
21. The Sicilian
B&B Butchers & RestaurantAddress and Info
You can take a day trip to Brooklyn via this New York butcher shop/steakhouse hybrid. Pop into either the butcher side or the full-on restaurant and you’ll find the Sicilian, a perfect 10 with fresh mozz and paper-thin cuts of imported prosciutto that gets a super-fresh boost from plump Roma tomatoes and basil pesto.
22. Pit Boss “Chickwich”
Beaver'sAddress and Info
Break out the Wet-Naps, loosen your buckle, and get in a proper sloppy-sandwich-eating stance. Even if you fork and knife it, this BBQ “chickwich” (which actually does come with a big-ass steak knife speared through its center) is bound to get messy. That’s because it is absolutely overloaded with pulled barbecue chicken, a ready-to-break fried egg, fried onion strings, and house slaw. Enjoy it with a pickle, a huge pile of fries and, hopefully, your dignity.
23. Original Po-boy
Antone's Famous Po'BoysAddress and Info
North Loop (& West Loop)
You can’t have a Houston sandwich bucket list without the place that ignited the city’s love for po-boys and chowchow. Get the kicked-up Southern relish -- made with cabbage, hot & sweet peppers, and spices -- spread onto Antone’s most classic sandwich, piled high with sliced ham, salami, provolone, a slather of mayo, and some pickles.
24. Sausage, egg, and cheddar biscuit
BlacksmithAddress and Info
Step 1: Choose a coffee or tea. Step 2: Stop looking at the menu, because there’s really no other option that is as deeply satisfying as this made-from-scratch biscuit topped with butcher’s sausage, melted cheddar, and a yolky egg just waiting to be broken bad. In case we were unclear... Step 3: Order the biscuit sandwich.
25. The Bobert
CorkScrew BBQAddress and Info
What makes some of the city’s most excellent barbecue that much more excellent? CARBS. Take CorkScrew’s incredibly flavorful smoked meat for instance. Choose from tender pulled pork, fatty brisket, smoked turkey, or hot sausage, slap it inside some carbs, then smother it in a green chile ranch sauce, because you know what also makes things more excellent? RANCH.
26. Wicked Philly
Pappa Geno'sAddress and Info
Lazybrook/Timbergrove (& other locations)
Hot oil peppers should probably be on every savory sandwich ever, which is something you’d know if you ever had a taste of them on the Wicked Philly. The fiery cousin of a classic, chopped Philly cheesesteak, the Wicked is slightly naughtier, slightly hotter, and slightly sloppier, because there’s also mayo, something else that should probably be on every savory sandwich ever.
27. New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Toast
Bernadine'sAddress and Info
Available as a starter at dinner or topped with eggs during brunch, chef Graham Laborde’s take on this Hong Kong-meets-NOLA staple is sort of like an open-faced tuna melt... But instead of tuna, the bread is slathered with shrimp paste, then deep-fried and nestled into a bed of deep, hickory-hued barbecue shrimp sauce to be exact. Long story short: It’s way better than an open-faced tuna melt.
28. Mortadella Panini
13 CelsiusAddress and Info
You probably wouldn’t think to order a sandwich at a wine bar. Charcuterie and cheese? Sure. But a fried mortadella sandwich with provolone, tomato, and cornichon pressed into a pretzel bun and topped with a fried egg? Try it to see exactly what you’ve been missing your entire life.
Tacos Tierra CalienteAddress and Info
You probably wouldn’t think to get a torta at this cult favorite taco truck, mainly because the tacos are freaking incredible and are like $2. It’s worth “splurging” on a $5 torta at least once in your life. They're filled with the same choice of meats -- beef fajita, pastor, barbacoa, chicharron, lengua, or bistek -- and packed into a griddled torta roll alongside the same fiery salsas, meaning you definitely won’t leave disappointed.
30. Crawfish Roll
Saint Arnold Brewing CompanyAddress and Info
The Third Coast proves it don’t need no stinkin’ cold-water lobster to make a badass version of Maine’s favorite sandwich, and it does so at Saint Arnold’s. Get the grilled, buttery, crawfish-stacked roll alongside a cold Saint A’s pint, as is tradition.