Located in a charming structure built in 1921, ancient by Houston standards, Carter & Cooley is in the main business district in the Heights. Carter & Cooley has been in operation since 1989. It looks like what an old-stye sandwich shop, or malt shop, should look like. Fairly spacious for such an operation, there is room for plenty of tables, the requisite deli counter and an attractive, soaring pressed tin ceiling that seems to be nearly twenty feet from the floor.
It’s tough to think of a nicer and more distinctive place in which to eat a sandwich in town. The interior of Carter & Cooley is a testament to the history of the Heights neighborhood in its early development. Numerous, interesting photographs of the early days of the Heights from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when it was a separate municipality apart from Houston are shown on the walls. But, this relative charm would be for naught if the food was not worth a visit. It is.
Carter & Cooley can be described as an American deli, rather than a Jewish or Italian one. There are several well crafted Jewish-American sandwiches, and the New Orleans-Italian muffaletta, but the emphasis is on the middle American favorites. There are over twenty-five sandwiches on the menu that includes hot pastrami, Reuben, egg salad, tuna salad, BLT, liverwurst, smoked turkey breast, and a couple vegetarian sandwiches.
The sandwiches are good because Carter & Cooley uses quality ingredients. The foundation, the breads are baked daily. The lunch meats are top-notch. The accompanying lettuce and tomato slices always seem suitably fresh and green and red, respectively. The bacon that is used for the BLT is not the thin, crumbly bacon hidden among the lettuce and toast, but rather thick hickory-smoked bacon. Unlike many other so-called BLT sandwiches at lesser places, the bacon is prominent. A generous number of slices find their way onto each of these. All of the sandwiches come with a decent potato salad, and a pickle slice.
Carter & Cooley also has house-made chili and a daily soup. There are also several sides and salads such as macaroni, fruit salad, pasta salad and an artichoke and pasta salad. If you need a sweet finish, there are individual pies baked in-house and several cakes and brownies.
Carter & Cooley Co.
375 W. 19th (west of Heights)
Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.
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