HOUSTON - Phoenicia Market, Deli & Cafe Caspian
1st time for Boston hound in Houston last week in the Briar Forest area.
PHOENICIA MARKET(http://www.phoeniciafoods.com/) had been hearing about it from bro’ since he moved to area. Absolutely awed by its size & variety of goods, as well as the impressive take-out/deli. Live in the midst of little Armenian markets & bakeries outside Cambridge MA, so felt right at home.
PHOENICIA DELI(across Westheimer): Huge, delish beef shwarma wrap for lunch in this very busy, popular spot w/creamy garlic, tahini &/or hot pepper to compliment – I used all 3. Honor system for imported vs. domestic beer from cold cases in back.
CAFÉ CASPIAN (http://www.cafecaspian.com/): Hot, just out-of-the-oven, large dinner plate-sized taftoon bread arrived at our table to break off and scoop up the hummus, yogurt & cucumber, spinach, and eggplant dips & grape leaves, accompanied by fresh herbs, tomato, radishes, onion wedges & feta. Even the timid eater in our group of 5 loved this. Shakers of ?sumac on the table which I used on everything. For entrees, I had to have the Fesenjan (chix w/sweet & sour pomegranate & walnut sauce over basmati rice). This was a generous incredibly thick, rich, savory piquant sauce, redolent with pomegranate over tasty, fluffy hot rice. No way could I finish it, but really enjoyed it the next morning for breakfast w/a couple of poached eggs on top. Other entrees(all served w/basmati rice) included: Loobya(green beans & tomato sauce flavored with cinnamon, garlic, onions & saffron, mixed w/tender sautéed filet mignon; Khoresh-e Bademja (stew of eggplant, sautéed w/chix & onions in a saffron tomato sauce; & Barg (chix breast marinated, skewered & flame broiled w/grilled tomatoes. I loved everything. Service was welcoming & solicitous w/water glasses & drinks replenished & dishes cleared between well paced courses. After the Fesenjan, I would pick the Loobya next time – which will be the end of this month – Yay! Looked through the Houston postings & identified “Neverful” as one hound for my bro’s to watch for good tips. Wish I was going to be there for your PIG ROAST chowdown on 10/17! Most weekends, here in Beantown, a small, dedicated group of us get together for a meal &/or a local festival. Happy chowing.
Thanks for giving the same sentiment I have for year about all three of these places. When my brother first moved to Houston from Dallas he took me there when they were across the street in a more cramped space. Same quality just not a grand deli, olive bar, etc they have now. This is the store I always buy all my spices from in bulk, they have everything I need and it is far cheaper than anywhere I have found in Texas. The shwarma at the Deli is hard not to be missed as it might be one of the best lunch entrees in Texas a close second to Smitty's in Lockhart. I also love themarket because you can sample all the feta's until you decide that the Greek truly is the best but even the domestic is not a bad choice especially when wrapped in some of their still warm pitas. The muhamara is also a great spread that is often overlooked.
Cafe Caspian is by far my favorite Middle Eastern place in Texas. Afrah in Richardson is great for the baklava and pita but Cafe Caspian great all around dishes.
I could go on and on about those places but next time bring a empy suitcase to fill with bulk spices!!
I have tried it before yes! I am not sure if you know Bulgarians typically eat it with watermelon which is a very nice pairing. I live in the Dallas area but Phoenicia is my favorite market! I actually used several of my Phoenicia spices to make large pulled pork shoulder roast and boston butt for the Texas-OU game tomorrow. Unfortunately we don't have any good BBQ in Dallas