Expect Unexpectedly Great Fare at This Houston Office Building Deli in Buffalo Heights
A 12-story office building named 55 Waugh, just north of the intersection of Waugh and Memorial in Buffalo Heights, is home to Midtown Cafe & Deli — a delicatessen tucked away on the fifth floor (suite 520) that has been in operation for nearly 20 years, the last 15 of which overseen the Nguyen family. It has flown mostly under-the-radar, mostly catering to those working in the building, but Augustine “Auggie” Nguyen is updating the menu in order to bring new clientèle to his family’s business.
The deli serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, and the menu is fairly simple. The Nguyens goal has always been to serve fast, delicious food at reasonable prices. Due to inflation and shortages caused by the pandemic, it’s a goal which has grown exponentially more difficult for restaurants every year, and Midtown Cafe & Deli has had its fair share of ups and downs. Auggie’s parents, Danh and Julie, have been cooking for a living for over 25 years and moved to Houston shortly after 9/11. They had previously owned a food truck near the Orlando airport since 1996, but security concerns following the attack on the World Trade Center kept customers away, and they were forced to sell their business. They subsequently moved to Texas and have weathered a number of economic downturns since. Despite that, Auggie says that they are just grateful that they’ve been able to make it as long as they have.
Auggie is currently working on updating the menu and creating daily specials. Midtown Cafe offers a range of hot and cold sandwiches, salads, burgers, and a full breakfast menu from opening until 10:30 a.m. comprised of breakfast tacos, biscuits, bagels, sandwiches, omelets, breakfast plates and Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê sữa đá).
The sandwiches are split into two categories on the menu: traditional and signature. The selection of traditional sandwiches includes turkey breast, chicken salad (a customer favorite), egg salad, B.L.T.’s, club sandwiches and subs. The signature sandwich portion of the menu introduces playful and creative Auggie-creations, such as the Big Bird with turkey, bacon, and avocado, and the Hot Roast Beef Delight with bacon and provolone on a French roll, and the formidable Ultimate Club, which I ordered and easily split into two large meals. Instead of hoagies, you’ll find “Auggie’s Hauggies” like the Primo Italiano with ham, Genoa salami, prosciutto, provolone, LTO, and pepperoncini.
For first-time customers, he recommends trying the special and daily menus. On Mondays, for just $6.50, you can enjoy your choice of bánh mì, loaded with either chargrilled pork (known as thịt nướng), bourbon chicken, đặc biệt a.k.a Vietnamese cold cuts with chả lụa or roasted chicken floss, known as gà chà bông — a Viet-variation of Chinese rousong, a preparation of meat that is seasoned, dried and shredded into a delectably-fluffy, cotton-like texture. All the proper accouterments are available to add on, including pate gan gà (chicken liver paté) and Maggi Seasoning. Salt and Pepper Shrimp Stir-Fry was also on the board when I visited and Auggie told me they like to experiment with plated dishes on Mondays.
The specials for all weekdays are:
- Mondays: Bánh Mì (as described above) and one-off plated entrées.
- Tuesdays: Mexican or Vietnamese dishes.
- Wednesdays: Chinese and American-Chinese plated entrées.
- Thursdays: All-American classics.
- Fridays: Fried seafood, plus burger and sandwich specials.
Midtown Cafe & Deli also has a large assortment of grab-and-go chips, snacks and bottled drinks to as well as several vegetarian dishes. It is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parking is available in the adjacent garage.
Mario Sebastian-Berry is a wine and spirits vendor who has been in the hospitality industry since 2002. Currently, he represents Blanco, Texas-based Andalusia Whiskey Co. and multiple wine labels. Somehow, he also finds time to be Houston Food Finder’s social media manager.
At first I was like “Whaaat?” then I saw the pics and read the article…legit for sure! And, putting the long forgotten “bourbon chicken” aka “mall chicken” aka “endless free samples in high school chicken” on a banh mi is awesome! I hope bourbon chicken makes a comeback! Great article!