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Aug 24, 2011 03:57 PM

Best iftar/Pakistani food (buffet or a la carte) during Ramadan?

Hello 'Hounds.

I'm looking for recs for iftar or Pakistani food during the month of Ramadan. I am planning on going to my usual favs (Savoy, BBQ Tonite) but was wondering if anyone has been to Sabri Nihari, Himalaya, etc. recently during Ramadan.

Distance is not a factor (but I won't drive to Hunstville!), so anywhere in Houston or the burbs is fair game.


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  1. I hate to see an honest question with no replies, so even though I can't help, would you mind answering a couple of questions for me?

    Aren't you fasting during Ramadan, sunup to sundown?

    Do these places even open during the day then, for non-Muslims?

    If they close during the day, do they have special hours at night?

    Are there special dishes for Ramadan, that even us non-Muslims might want to seek out, even if only to pad our Chowhound resumes?

    I had never even considered this issue before, but I just love learning new stuff.

    (I love eating new stuff even more.)

    6 Replies
    1. re: DoobieWah

      I'll try and answer your ?'s the best I can :)

      -I'm not Muslim, so not fasting (although my waistline tells me I should be fasting)

      -Many (or even most) places are open during the day, but can be sparsely populated since Muslims are fasting during the day and don't go to their regular haunts for lunch, early dinners, etc.

      -Some places will have later hours, because folks will go out to eat after sundown. The meal for breaking the days fast can be quite a feast and many like to get together with friends and family to eat together. The lunar calendar is moving closer into the summer every year, which means that Ramadan will fall in months with longer days - sunset is about 8:00ish these days right?

      - Some places will do special items for their iftar buffets or menus. Most of the time, since they know more people will come after sunset, the food is turned over quickly and quite fresh. Also, it will often have that little something extra to make it even yummier since restos are trying to put their best foot forward.

      -As far as special items go, true blue Pakistani restaurants will have items like nihari, paya, haleem, magaz (brain), etc besides the usual korma, biryani, rogan josh,

      If you haven't been to BBQ Tonite, I strongly recommend that you go. Great buffet (kinda greasy), that will feel rich and it is very easy to go overboard, but try and get a little taste of everything. This is not the kind of food found at most Indian restaurants or Indika (ugh).

      1. re: caliking

        Thanks for the reply.

        May I ask why you are specifically interested in reccs for Ramadan then, instead of just "great Pakistani restaurants"?

        I don't mean to sound critical, so please don't take it that way; I am just intrigued. Theologies are an "avocation" of mine.

        1. re: caliking

          Look - my two favorite IndoPak restaurants in Houston are Sabri Nihari and Indika. They are polar opposites. Sabri Nihari is cheap and excellent - I love being able to see them make the nan seconds before they serve it to you. The buffet has to be one of the best values and best quality anywhere. Indika is expensive and obviously not for those who want flocked wallpaper and a traditional menu. Still, the food there is also excellent and exciting - I particularly lover whatever they put in their vegetarian sampler plate - that alone could convert me to vegetarian. When you say "ugh" in reference to Indika you totally destroy your credibility as a reviewer.

          516 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006

          1. re: kagemusha49

            Flocked wallpaper! Ha! Anita's Indika is amazing. Sure do miss her on the west side.

            516 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006

            1. re: Lambowner

              check out her happy hour bar food bites,, daily 5-730p daily (weekdays). also the Indika sunday brunch is crazy good for $25 bucks.

              516 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006

          2. re: caliking

            Royal on Bissonnet is a great hole in the wall Pakistani joint. I think they take tradition ppretty seriously. For instance there is q male side of the restaurant and a family side.
            Aga on wilcrest at de freeway is a very good paki place.
            Himalaya is awesome. I like the owner but many people are turned off by him.

        2. Let me add himalaya has haleem for special occasions specificqlly I know he cooks it for catering jobs during Ramadan. You would have to ask for it though and be lucky.
          Royal is kind of known for their magaz.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jscarbor

            Thanks for the rec for Royal - will try to make it out there. I'll investigate how to get haleem from Himalaya.

            @ DoobieWah: During Ramadan, people often get together or go out as a group to break the day's fast - the idea is to share with friends/family and spend time with them. Restaurants will often step it up a notch to attract these groups, to be "the" place for iftar dinners, etc. good Pakistani restaurants are usually better during the Ramadan season. I admit that I started this thread for selfish gastronomic reasons, not for any spiritual/theological ones.

            @kagemusha49: Even though I would prefer not to let this thread become one devoted to Indika (a new thead could be started for that purpose), I stand by my "ugh" for Indika. A review is one's description of their experience and impression, which is subjective. I know many rave about Indika, and I am glad that they have found a restaurant which they so thoroughly enjoy. I have been to Indika once and it took me a while to order, since I could not find any entree appealing. Ended up ordering a combination of appetizers, which I found to be disappointing. I remember the keema because it was subpar - a dollop of pretty bleh keema, plated with baby spinach leaves (what??) and naan which was ok, but not remarkable. The only things I enjoyed about the meal were the company I was with, and 2 great scotches (their scotch selection is pretty good for a restaurant). Indika is special because it takes Indian food to a more "respectable" level (and charges $$$ for the effort) - nice decor, geographically accessible, full bar, great wine list, etc. To me the food is not their strongest suit, hence my not so great opinion of them. I have been contemplating a second visit for quite some time, and am willing to change my opinion if warranted. For now though, the "ugh" still stands.

            Anyways, back to the question of iftar specials... please post any recs if you have them. Visited Dallas over the weekend, and had to stop by BBQ Tonite. The place was bustling, and the dinner buffet was definitely better than it has been in the past. Many patrons=higher turnover of food items, so the yakhni pulao, naans, biryani, kababs, etc were fresh and fantastic. The karahi gosht was the clear star of the lineup. Dessert included shahi tukra which left me with a bit of a sugar high! Will try and hit BBQ Tonite here in Houston (not related to the one in Dallas, supposedly) to see how it measures up.

            As usual, so many restaurants, so little time. :)

            1. re: caliking

              And I stand by my comment that you have destroyed your credibility.

          2. Hands down, the best iftar in Houston is at JAL the Grille. Go to During Ramadan the Chef offers a special buffet that focuses on Pakistani cuisine and includes several curries which are not on the Menu.

            1. And so here I am, always ready to talk up Katy. If "distance is not a factor," you should definitely give Naranj a try.

              I love this place:

              And, by the way, Doobs, are we ever going to have that meetup out here?

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jaymes

                Any time.

                BTW, Jaymes, I assume you know that your e-mail has been hacked? I've received two emails from your address in the last few days with your name in the subject line. Both times you were trying to sell me something inane, (once in Spanish!).

                1. re: DoobieWah

                  Hey, if it was "in Spanish," how are you so sure it was "something inane"?

                  Just kidding. Yep, got hacked. Siento.