11.08.2008

Exotic Food Options in Houston

How about some food updates for Houston?

Let's start with some bad news - one of my favorite Houston restaurants, Bice, is no more. According to My Table's web page, the upscale Italian restaurant restaurant recently closed. I saw this confirmed on the B4-U-EAT web page, as well. Not sure if the economy is to blame or a somewhat poor location. Either way, it's a loss for Houston's dining scene.

Now... let's talk about places that are definitely open. The first is Himalaya... a Pakistani restaurant located at 6652 Southwest Freeway, on the northwest corner of the intersection with Hillcroft. The food at Himalaya is wonderful - so flavorful, abundant and reasonably priced. The family-run restaurant offers a wide selection of dishes. Kaiser and his wife are always willing to provide insight on what to order. The last time I went, I ordered goat keema (he described it as being like goat chili) and daal fry. So many delicious complex flavors and quite a bit of fire, to boot. The special is usually a safe bet and offers a taste of different flavors. I've ordered mutton before, as well, and it was out of this world. Now, should you choose to eat there, the atmosphere can be a bit lacking but, let's face it, atmosphere is not why one goes there. It is all about the food. For more on Himalaya, a 2005 Robb Walsh review in the Houston Press provides more insight.

Since we're talking ethnic food, let's talk about Phoenicia Specialty Foods at 12141 Westheimer. What can I say about this place? If you like Mediterranean food, Phoenicia is heaven. I still can't believe I haven't mentioned this place before. I thought of it earlier today after nibbling on a date filled maamoul (a cookie filled with date paste).

So... how can I describe it? In many respects, Phoenicia is like a typical grocery store - produce, a butcher, bakery, deli, etc. The thing is, you'll find products you would never run across in your typical Kroger. How about a butcher that offers kakta kabobs or soujouk links? Or a bakery that offers delicacies you would typically find in a Lebanese pastry shop? And a deli that has 6 different types of fresh feta cheeses from Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria as well as homemade marinated string cheese like you might find at a Bosnian restaurant. Of course, you'll have an endless selection of packaged goods, aisles of exotic sweets and even a counter where one can buy various tobacco products to be used in a hookah.

If you're a foodie or just curious about new cuisine, I would just suggest you go check it out and enjoy walking around and taking in the place. I guarantee you'll find something of interest. Check out some pictures of Phoenicia on the she eats blog.

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