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Jul 7, 2008 07:21 AM

Penzey's in Houston

I happened to be in the Heights on Saturday evening and saw that there is a Penzey's Spices store on 19th Street between Shepherd and Heights Blvd. It was closed so I wasn't able to check it out. Just thought I'd let y'all know about it.

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  1. Been there, done that. Its a great place .... but they didn't have the za'atar I was looking for the day I visited.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cheflambo


      I live in Dallas and have avoided Penzey's. If you need any spice (including za'tar) make the trip across to the west side and go to Phoenicia, which IMO is the best spice store in Texas. All of the spices are the cheapest I have found anywhere. They all have a high turnover, sold whole and ground (I buy whole), and are in clear plastic containers so you can check the freshness. That coupled with a great place to buy excellent feta, olives and other Mediterranean specialties are other reasons to go.

    2. Penzey's also has a retail store in Dallas. I was disappointed, though. The herbs and spices didn't seem quite as fresh as they are by mailorder. I'm wondering if turnover is slower at the retail stores.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Christnp

        I agree with you both. In fact, finding za'atar at Penzey's was going to be my little "test" to see if they were worth a re-visit. Since the Houston store is only about a mile from my house, I probably will go in again, but I agree with Lewisville .... Phoenicia is worth the trip. I saw the za'atar there on my last visit, but it seemed to come in rather large quantities (I only wanted a couple of ounces, as I dont use it that often). But I suppose as inexpensive as it was there (and knowing its all very fresh) I could find plenty of excuses to use it up, or share it with other local chowhounders......

        1. re: Cheflambo

          I looked up Penzey's online to see if I could find some piment d'espelette. Not surprisingly, they don't carry it. I was surprised to see that Specs had some. Does anyone else know where else I can find some in Dallas or Houston?

          1. re: Bhutani

            For piment d'espelette, try William-Sonoma, or possibly Central Market. Im not surprised that Spec's had this -- their gourmet food section is one of Houston's best kept secrets. I always find SOMETHING there that I have never seen before.

        2. re: Christnp

          I found the Penzey's web site more interesting then a peek through their window. Honestly I was a little disappointed but I've heard such good things about it I thought I'd share the find. I will check it out but I have to agree with Lewis.... that Phoenicia is a great place to get spices. I'm in the JSC area so Phoenicia is quite a drive for me but I make it about every other month for spices, almonds, and feta amongst other things.

          So can anyone tell me what are Penzey's must have products?

          1. re: tlegray

            On the Home Cooking board there are a lot of people who recommend the Adobo spice. I haven't gone in there but my daughter was looking for some salt free seasonings. She got about 4 different kinds in little jars, just to try them out, and she let me taste them. They were all very good and you didn't miss the salt at all. I'll have to ask what they were. You should ask on the General Chowhound board. There are a lot of penzey's fans around.

            1. re: danhole


              Adobo sauce is actually easy if you get the achiote paste at Fiesta or other well stocked Hispanic grocer and add what any adobo recipe calls for (usually garlic, vinegar, etc). Achiote paste should run about 75 cents a box.

              As for Salt Free Seasonings I would look at the ingredients, buy all of your bulk spices at Phoenicia, and make it your liking.

              I make a lot of my own blends b/c I like some seasonings more than others and are not binded by what someone else likes

              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                I do that myself. I have a recipe that I came up with for a spicy, low salt cajun type seasoning. Loved by all who have had it.

                I think the adobo is a spice blend, not a sauce. I was looking at the goya brand at the store yesterday, but wasn't sure which one to get. There were 2 different ones,

                1. re: danhole

                  Don't get the premade Goya brand!

                  Try to find actual achiote paste or you can get your achiote /annatto seeds dried in the spice package aisle and make it that way. Either way I would avoide the premade "Adobo" sauce as it typically has enough salt to provide for cattle for weeks. I have found that the flavors are a bit off on the premade Adobo where as the achiote paste or annatto seeds the flavors come through more vividly.

                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder


                    This is not a sauce. It sprinkles on, like a rub, or a seasoned salt, but it is salt free. If you search for "penzey's + adobo" on the home cooking board you will see what I mean. But thanks for the advice anyway.