Enjoying Lebanese at Cafe' Lili in Houston

Finding good Mediterranean food (Lebanese, Turkish and other similar varieties) in Houston is becoming easier and easier. Mainstays like Dimassi's and Cafe Lili have been around for years while "newer" places like Fadi's and Empire Turkish Grill have flourished. Witness how Fadi's has gradually taken over neighboring retailers as it has expanded "eastward".

Cafe' Lili is one of our favorite spots. Located at 5757 Westheimer, adjacent to Thai Restaurant (despite the generic name, a great place for Thai - hospitality 10x better than Nit Noi), the family-run restaurant is generally busy any time of the day. Saturday afternoons are usually buzzing with customers enjoying the restaurant's authentic Lebanese cuisine. Lili, the matriarch of the family is almost always there, parked at her reserved table with a hookah in hand. Her son is typically working behind the counter while her husband treats everyone to a delicious cup of Lebanese coffee (don't drink the grinds - you'll rue the day you did)

Our most recent visit was two weeks ago. On a nice day, you can enjoy a seat out on the covered sidewalk where the parking lot manages to block out the sound of Westheimer traffic. For a relatively light meal, grab a sizeable kabob salad. The chicken kabob salad is excellent. The sampler is more than filling and includes hummus, tabouli, baba ghanouj, spinach pie, meat pie and fried kibbie. One item to skip is the lebne as it is relatively flavorless - a much much better version can be found at Empire Turkish Grill. Fadi's also has better hummus. Daily specials are posted on a chalkboard by the entry and typically range from $9.99. If you feel like wine, the restaurant offers Lebanese wine by the bottle.

Pick a nice day and enjoy a lazy afternoon at Cafe' Lili. Chances are you'll run into someone you know.

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