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Tasty Tuesday: Best Office Lunch Caterer

14 September 2009 4,586 views 21 Comments

If you work downtown like me, you might have the option once in a while to order in lunch for the office. I love those days since budget and distance can be less of an encumbrance than it would be if I was just going out to grab something quick and cheap.

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At my company, our old standbys have tended to be Austin Java or Do Good Deli. What we loved about Do Good Deli is that they offered tasty, locally-sourced lunches and 100% of the proceeds went to Caritas. Sadly, Do Good Deli was not economically sustainable and they closed at the end of July. Word is that their former manager is now operating “The Deli Downstairs” out of that location. Has anyone tried it?

Last week, we had a new intern training and we had the opportunity to order lunch for those involved. I was hoping for something healthy and light so I asked if we could try my friend Jon’s place, Leaf. He had told me that they were now doing delivery at lunchtime and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out.

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Most of my colleagues ordered one of their “Big 12″ and I put together my own based on the yummy list of possibilities. It included fresh shrimp, cherry tomatoes, avocado, edamame, asparagus, and more. I loved every bite! I opted for plain oil and vinegar but wished I had tried some of their wonderful-sounding house made dressings like organic sesame ginger, honey-tangerine vin, or strawberry-balsamic vin.

Leaf’s produce is amazing and Jon told me he uses local wholesaler Cawoods for the bulk of it and Farm to Table, a local middleman who connects small farmers to restaurants to supplement.

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From Tuesday, Sept. 14 through Tuesday, Sept. 22, Leaf will be offering a special for my readers — No delivery charge if you tell them you heard about Leaf on Tasty Touring.

Normally, there is a $5 delivery fee with a $30 minimum. They deliver by bike and their boundaries are Cesar Chavez, Lamar, 15th, and I-35.Feel free to peruse the menu online for your next office lunch meeting and call or fax in your order.

After that long intro, here is the question for this Tasty Tuesday: What is the best place to order in lunch when you’re on the boss’ AmEx? Who has the healthiest, most interesting, most delicious dishes around and will deliver at a reasonable amount that won’t make the accounting departments eyebrows raise in shock? Looking forward to hearing your suggestions.

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  • BethK_AOK

    Sushi Zushi!

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Beth! Can I ask why you would recommend it?

  • BethK_AOK

    But of course. First of all, the menu is ginormous – there's something on it for everyone: raw and cooked, salad and soup, udon noodles and rolls. There are a couple of great dishes in the $5 range, but for those on an expense account, it's easy to impress with $18 rolls like the Oaklawn Roll – Fried crawfish, avocado and spicy tuna or spicy salmon rolled uramaki style, topped with colorful tobiko and honey wasabi sauce. Their service is quick, and since they're new, they're likely not yet played out at meetings.

    Also, I just think it's cool that Austin has made it into the ranks of cities that deliver more than just pizza and Chinese food ;)

  • http://twitter.com/McKinzeyC McKinzey Crossland

    As a former office lunch orderer, I have several fantastic recs:
    - Deli Downstairs (formerly the Do Good Deli with all profits going to Caritas of Austin, now a smaller percentage benefits caritas, but the Turkey sandwiches are so delicious you'll still want to order from them. They also have a PB & banana sandwich that our vegan coworkers love)
    - Fete accompli: They're around the corner from our office and do awesome gourmet boxed lunches. They have a turkey with some kind of yellow curry chutney that is to die for. They have very creative takes on the classic lunch favorites like tuna, turkey, ham etc.They also have incredible sides like roasted beet salads.
    - Apple Annies: They have all the classics but do them so well, plus they're great when you need something a little fancier. The service is top notch
    - Austin Java: They do great sandwich trays and big salads when you have a big group and have lots of healthy, veggie options. They also have a ridiculously awesome cookie/brownie tray.

    And now I'm hungry for lunch, thanks Jodi.

  • seandoles
  • Laura

    We have an administrative assistant who goes out and brings us lunch when needed, so we don't use places that deliver. :(

  • jodibart

    Very good suggestions. Thank you so much, McKinzey! Nice to knowt hat the new Deli Downstairs donates a percentage of their proceeds still. We'll have to try Fete Accompli and Annies is a great suggestion too — their salad sampler is excellent!

  • pbiehlerandcat

    Annies Cafe & Bar (formerly Apple Annies) on Congress–they have been doing this for years and are pros when it comes to variety of menu items,freshness of food, value and professionalism.

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Sean. Can I ask what you like about them and if you have a favorite menu item (their menu is HUGE!).

  • jodibart

    You are SUCH a big dog, Laura :-) Where does she generally go pick up from?

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Paula. I went there last night for Austin Restaurant Week and split the $25 price fixe with my boyfriend. It was awesome! We enjoyed tomato brie soup, steak frites, a glass of wine, and a chocolate sea salt tart. What a great deal and the steak was perfectly cooked. I started out with one of their classic drinks — a sidecar — and it was wonderful. I cannot say enough great things about that place. I love it for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner.

  • pbiehlerandcat

    Great feedback Jodi–thanks for letting me know–your comments are exactly what the owners are looking for. Finally a downtown bistro featuring farm to table cuisine, artisan pastries and killer cocktails. I love the renovation of the historic building, it gives the overall experience a sophisticated warmth and I can't wait for the outdoor seating…imagine the doors of that building open wide and jazz music playing….

  • http://www.outofcontrolfatroll.com/ Jenni

    Our office uses a few delivery places, but my favs are Pokejos (if not just for the green bean casserole and mac-n-cheese) and then Whole Foods. We had them deliver a large pizza and two salads and it ended up feeding about seven people for less than $25 total (and it was pretty healthy considering the pizza). We also do our Friday office outings at Frank, and you can read about that adventure here: http://outofcontrolfatroll.com/2009/09/14/not-o….

  • Name

    My lunch office choices are pretty uninspiring, but here are some I like:

    Choices Catering – hit or miss but the salad options are goooood and the cupcakes are also pretty stellar, actually

    ummm…ok, can't think of any others I really like, but we also get takeout a lot from these places and other people seem to like them: Serranos, PF Changs, Pokey Jo's

    And obviously you have to get dessert from Tiff's Treats.

    xoxo

  • http://www.actonmba.org/ Georgia

    Have you tried Primizie on East 11th? They have an excellent restaurant as well as a separate catering company. I work for the Acton MBA. We office downtown and have a campus on Riverside. Primizie has an exceptional catering team as well as amazing food. They're willing to customize for us as well. We use them from everything to a small teacher's meeting to a 600 person Grand Opening. Give them a try. I've told everyone I know to use them….

  • jodibart

    See you today for lunch. Looking forward to the Choices salad and cupcake combo :-)

  • jodibart

    That's a great suggestion! I love going to Primizie for lunch and dinner but it's nice to know that they cater also. Any suggested dishes? Thank you, Georgia!

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  • http://www.mannalifestylemarketing.com/ Jette

    I like Mama Fu's (http://www.mamafus.com) for lunch time delivery, especially since I work near downtown. Their downtown/2nd street location delivers to me and is always on time, fresh, and yummy. Plus, they're not that expensive. I can have my favorite edimame, a main dish and a drink for less than $10. Not bad. I also like their online ordering system that “remembers” me and my favorite things to order.

    I'm the queen of not liking to cook after a long day of work and I like ordering in. Their downtown location and their Triangle location both offer late night delivery until 11 pm.

    I must be transparent and say that now I market for Mama Fu's, but I just started this position less than two weeks ago, but I've been ordering from them for about year. I liked them before the CEO even knew my name. : )

  • http://www.mannalifestylemarketing.com/ Jette

    I like Mama Fu's (http://www.mamafus.com) for lunch time delivery, especially since I work near downtown. Their downtown/2nd street location delivers to me and is always on time, fresh, and yummy. Plus, they're not that expensive. I can have my favorite edimame, a main dish and a drink for less than $10. Not bad. I also like their online ordering system that “remembers” me and my favorite things to order.

    I'm the queen of not liking to cook after a long day of work and I like ordering in. Their downtown location and their Triangle location both offer late night delivery until 11 pm.

    I must be transparent and say that now I market for Mama Fu's, but I just started this position less than two weeks ago, but I've been ordering from them for about year. I liked them before the CEO even knew my name. : )

  • http://www.mannalifestylemarketing.com/ Jette

    I like Mama Fu's (http://www.mamafus.com) for lunch time delivery, especially since I work near downtown. Their downtown/2nd street location delivers to me and is always on time, fresh, and yummy. Plus, they're not that expensive. I can have my favorite edimame, a main dish and a drink for less than $10. Not bad. I also like their online ordering system that “remembers” me and my favorite things to order.

    I'm the queen of not liking to cook after a long day of work and I like ordering in. Their downtown location and their Triangle location both offer late night delivery until 11 pm.

    I must be transparent and say that now I market for Mama Fu's, but I just started this position less than two weeks ago, but I've been ordering from them for about year. I liked them before the CEO even knew my name. : )