Tired of Barnaby’s? Here are three small businesses near Carnegie for your next off-campus lunch


Noah Mohamed

For a quick and cheap bite, Christy’s Donuts and Kolaches is located just down the street from CVHS on Gray Street.

It’s 12:20 when the bell rings, signaling the end of fourth period and the start of lunch. For me, a second-semester senior with poor spending habits and no desire to be productive, this means I’m heading off campus for lunch.

However, seeing as we’re expected back by 1:20… it’s off to a busy Barnaby’s for a 15 dollar burger or 13 dollar salad. Again. Don’t get me wrong – I love Barnaby’s fries as much as the next Carnegie student, but sometimes I want something a little easier on the wallet and a little bit homier. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the small businesses that make Houston Houston have been struggling to stay afloat, and it’s local support that makes it possible for them to survive. 

Here are three of the best small businesses (in no particular order) less than a mile from Carnegie for your next off-campus lunch.

Christy’s Donuts and Kolaches

Christy’s Donuts is an old-school, classic donut shop on the corner of West Gray and Montrose, just a half-mile from Carnegie. All in all, it took my two friends and me exactly 32 minutes to go there, get our food, and get back (this did include a quick stop at the corner store) – if you’re in a rush, Christy’s is definitely the speediest option on this list. 

For students on a budget, Christy’s is also incredibly affordable. For the smorgasbord of pastries, pictured below, I paid just $8.78. 

Christy’s Donuts from L-R, top to bottom: chocolate iced donut, bear claw, apple fritter, donut hole, cinnamon twist, and lemon filled donut. Not pictured: sausage and cheese kolache. (Noah Mohamed)

I started with the sausage and cheese kolache (this was the only pastry I ate warmed), and I was blown away. I got the regular size, but they also offer a jumbo. The bread was sweet and savory at the same time, complementing the rich saltiness of the sausage. The cheese to sausage ratio in the kolache was the only downside of this pastry – the cheese was barely noticeable, and upon biting into the kolache, I actually asked myself if they had given me a sausage-only kolache. But, for just $1.65, I can look past that.

The bear claw and lemon-filled donut were hits – the bear claw, a huge, donut-like pastry filled with sweet and cinnamony apple filling. It would have been perfect if it were warmed up – but even at room temperature, most of us enjoyed it. The sweet, airy pastry perfectly balanced the tart apples. The other fruit-filled pastry, the lemon-filled donut, was similarly enjoyable, although its filling, a thick syrupy lemon curd, tasted slightly artificial. 

Of the remaining pastries, we found ourselves less impressed. The chocolate-glazed donut was marred by the artificial tasting chocolate frosting that was far too sweet for an already sweet donut. The cinnamon twist was enjoyable texturally, but the actual taste of the pastry left much to be desired – for a pastry called a cinnamon twist, it didn’t have much of a cinnamon flavor. The apple fritter, the last pastry we tried, was controversial: those of us who prefer crunchier textures enjoyed it, but for me (as a person who prefers softer pastries), it just wasn’t that great.

All in all, though, after a thorough menu exploration, I determined Christy’s to be a hit, and I definitely plan to go back next time I forget to bring lunch to school.

For those who plan to visit Christy’s, here’s a fun fact: all orders come with a couple complimentary donut holes – and if you’re anything like me, they won’t last the trip back to Carnegie. 

Lankford Grocery and Market

Craving the huge burgers from Barnaby’s, but don’t want to pay 15 (or more!) dollars? Save yourself a couple dollars by walking just a little bit longer to local institution Lankford Grocery and Market. Tucked away in a mostly residential area, Lankford Grocery has been a neighborhood mainstay for almost a century. The most exciting thing to me, though, as a dedicated Guy Fieri fan, was Lankford’s 2006 feature on Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives. 

At Lankford Grocery, we sampled a total of 3 burgers and a sandwich: the Philadelphia Cheeseburger, inspired by a classic Philly Cheesesteak, the extra-spicy firehouse burger, the veggie burger, and the buffalo chicken sandwich. In order to ensure we would have our food during our lunch period, we placed our order online about 20 minutes ahead. The half-mile walk took us a little less than ten minutes, and we got to Lankford’s a few minutes after the pick-up time. Our food was ready to go as soon as we arrived. 

Starting with the Philadelphia Cheeseburger (pictured below) – as a former resident of the tri-state area, I have high standards for Philly Cheesesteaks, and expected the same of the burger. I was not disappointed: served with peppers, onions, mozzarella cheese, and a side of spicy mayo, the burger was rich and flavorful, but the richness of the beef and cheese was perfectly balanced by the crispness of the peppers and onions and the heat of the spicy mayo. My one gripe, however, is the use of mozzarella cheese – a sharper cheese, like cheddar or American (for full authenticity, I would say provolone, but Lankford unfortunately does not offer that option) may better balance out the heavier tastes.

The Philly Cheeseburger from Lankford’s (Noah Mohamed)

The Firehouse burger takes every opportunity to be spicy: between the habanero sauce, cayenne butter, and jalapeños, this burger is not for the faint of heart. For $11.75, you definitely get plenty of bang for your buck – if you can handle the heat.

The buffalo chicken sandwich, which we ordered with swiss cheese and fried chicken, was good but not a standout – it could have been spicier for sure, and the bread got soggy fast. Overall, this might be a better option to eat there rather than order for pick-up.

Lastly, for the vegetarians out there, we tried the veggie burger. For $12, you get a tender but still crispy black bean patty with lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, monterey jack cheese, and avocado. It certainly isn’t innovative, but it’s a simple and filling classic vegetarian option. 

Overall, Lankford’s was a great choice. Though it is on the pricier end of our list, the food is filling and overall enjoyable. They also offer shaded outdoor seating if you don’t feel like carrying your food back to Carnegie.


Kaytee’s Banh Mi 

Chicken Banh Mi from Kaytee’s Banh Mi Food Truck (Noah Mohamed)

Located right across the street from Barnaby’s and right next to Midtown Bar and Grill, Kaytee’s Banh Mi is a food truck that offers 3 types of banh mi (beef, chicken, pork) and egg rolls. Since it’s so close to Carnegie and wasn’t quite as busy as Lankford’s, we opted to just order when we were there instead of ordering ahead. The 0.3 mile walk took us just about 5 minutes, and we had our food within just about ten minutes of ordering.

We ordered the chicken banh mi for $8. It was a large sandwich and we were able to split one amongst two people. 

The chicken banh mi had shredded chicken, sliced cucumber, Thai basil, cilantro, and shredded carrot. It had more of an earthy, curry-like flavor than most of the banh mi I’ve had, but I actually enjoyed it more that way. The bread itself was soft without being mushy, and the greens added a nice bite to the sandwich as well. They definitely don’t skimp on the filling either, so we felt like we got our money’s worth. 

Kaytee’s also offered outdoor seating outside the truck, for those who want to eat there. The area is nice and shaded as well. 

Overall, all three of these locations are great options for anyone near Carnegie, not just seniors looking for their next off-campus lunch spot. Small businesses are the backbone of cities, and Houston is no exception. So next time, instead of the same Barnaby’s order you’ve been eating since freshman year, try Christy’s, Lankford’s, or Kaytee’s instead.