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Jan 30, 2014 10:39 AM

Very biased Houston reviews

The kosher scene in Houston is better than I would have expected given the size of the Jewish community, maybe because there is nothing else to do. Check the Houston Kashrut Association web site for updates since things change...

Best place to take a business dinner: Madras Pavillion. I am told that as far as Indian vegetarian food goes it's quite good. You will see that most of the other diners are Indian which is a good sign. There is NOTHING on the menu if you don't like Indian food, but they kindly modified one of their dishes for me when I was there. The lunch buffet is a great deal.

Pizza: Saba.
Now that Aroma is gone, Saba's is it. They make wonderful soups and fish as well as the usual salads, pizza, pasta and calzones. Not a place to take a client but the food is good.

Meat: Suzie's Grill
Don't be put off by the location, next to a gas station. Although Suzie is Persian, they make Mexican and Chinese. Not my favorite place but most of the locals seem to like Suzie's the best. You can buy some of their entrees at the South Servery on the Rice University campus, just across the street from the Texas Medical Center.

Meat: My Pita
Israeli style shipudim. My favorite. They make laffa, pita and baguette sandwiches or platters with the usual assortment of Israeli style meat and chicken. An Israeli will be disappointed but everyone else will like it.

Vegetarian: Green
Just opened last week. Not as quirky an atmosphere as the San Antonio Green but the same food. It worked as a business dinner and everyone loved it except me. They are very good about vegan and gluten-free but I was unable to get my waiter to understand that I will not eat anything with cilantro. Try the deep fried pickles for a truly weird Texas treat.

Dairy or Meat: Cafe at the J/Laykie's Gourmet.
Inside the JCC. Surprisingly good food and a choice of soups, all of which were wonderful. (I love soup.) The food is made fresh and sold in refrigerator containers which they will heat up for you if you want to eat it there. There are a few tables and chairs and the atmosphere is more Starbucks than gym waiting area. Good place to pick up meals for your hotel room.

Takeout: Randalls Supermarket on West Belfort. Wonderful chicken breast sandwiches, fast food style (but large!) hamburgers, Chinese-style chicken and rice made by a guy who used to work for PF Chang. Gets busy on Thursday evening. Avoid the salads, especially the egg salad. They also have rotisserie and fried chicken and a large parve and dairy bakery section. Try the Dutch apple pie!

Bakery: Three Brothers
Amazing but expensive.

Fro-yo: Menchies Frozen yogurt on Bissonet. Different flavors of frozen yogurt and toppings that you buy by the ounce.

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  1. Forgot to add:

    Krogers on West Post Oak also sells takeout but it's rotisserie chicken, Meal Mart kugels and salads. Their chicken is Empire which means I like it better than Randall's. The only place around to get Pollyo Mozzarella Sticks. Great selection of frozen dinners and they also sell the MealMart shelf stable meals.

    1. I know your post is about Houston, but we will be going to San Antonio soon, and your comment about the cilantro at Green has me worried. I too have a strong aversion to cilantro. Can you warn me about any of the dishes you know of, that included it?
      Thanks so much!

      25 Replies
      1. re: Bzdhkap

        The tofu stir fry (spicy but otherwise very good) comes with cilantro rice. I switched it for quinoa at a surcharge, and the quinoa also had cilantro. We actually went back tonight and I got the stir fry again but with mashed potatoes this time and there was no cilantro.

          1. re: Bzdhkap

            There is good evidence that cilantro aversion can be overcome. I've seen desensitization work (after this article ran in the Times, I experiment run on a close family member from whom only minimal and begrudging consent was obtained, a method that would not have gained the approval of a Human Subjects Experimentation Institutional Review Board) But it worked. If you begin to consume it in small volumes in dishes where it is not a major feature, you are very likely to lose your sensitivity and open up a lot of eating opportunities, notably in the vegan, Maghrebi, SE Asian and Mexican departments. Cilantro Haters, It’s Not Your Fault NYTimes, 2010

            1. re: AdinaA

              Getting queasy working up the nerve to read the article...but thanks, I'll read it. I'm not a cilantro tastes like soap person. When I eat cilantro it tastes like the food has gone bad. I really don't want to be more explicit on a foodie post but let's just say that it brings back memories of first trimester pregnancy and "mi sheh yavin, sheh yavin."

              1. re: SoCal Mother

                OK, i read the article and now i am really ill. According to the author I dislike cilantro because it tastes like insects??? Well THAT'S a selling point...

                1. re: SoCal Mother

                  Very funny. Not quite what the article says, but funny. Apparently the great majority of adult Euro-Americans with an aversion are more like DeisCane, unfamiliar with fresh cilantro in childhood, they have an aversion which is quite readily overcome by beginning to eat it little by little.

                  But we all react as individuals. For example, thousands of pregnant young women have walked past Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers in Harvard Square over the years. But that was my neighborhood when I was young and to this day I cannot walk past the place without feeling a strong physical reversion to the that first trimester feeling.

                2. re: SoCal Mother

                  Oh I know the feeling :(
                  So many things I STILL can't look at

                  1. re: cheesecake17

                    i dont understand this desire to find a way to avert a cilantro dislike, unless it makes youe physically sick to be around it

                    arent we allowed to just not be in to certain flavors?

                    im pretty open to flavors and tastes, but i really am not in to cilantro, okra or eggplant

                    i didnt grow up around cilantro or okra, but i did grow up with eggplant and was just never in to that consistency (there are other veggies that i dont like cooked certain ways bc of that same consistency, and i tend to undercook veggies when im cooking for myself bc of that consistency)

                    that being said, i grew up with very traditional eastern european flavors, no cumin, nothing spicy, no zahtar, no ginger, really very few extreme flavors, and i LOVE many extreme flavors- but cilantro- eh- it doesnt make me heave, but it definitely- i just dont like it, last night i was eating a pasta dish that apparently had a cilantro garnish and when i bit in to it i spit food out maybe the first time since childhood :-(

                    1. re: shoelace

                      Sorry if you misunderstood. I meant that I knew what it was like to be pregnant and unable to be around certain foods.

                      I have nothing against cilantro. My husband LOVES it, and I'm indifferent. If its included in a dish that's fine, but if not, I won't go out of my way to add some.

                      And..I grew up with the flavors you mention (and lots of okra and eggplant). It's totally "allowed" to not enjoy certain foods- that's not what I meant!

                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        oh, i wasnt directing at you- this was partially in response to an annoying conversation yesterday, and partially in response to adinas comment from a couple of days ago

                        1. re: shoelace

                          Ok, good!! I didn't mean to be rude or anything. Only that I know how it feels to look at something and be sick instantly.

                          And if you're ever in the market for a fab okra recipe, I've got one :)

                          1. re: cheesecake17

                            Because once you get past the dislike (in many cases), you realize how the flavor enhances the other flavors in dishes it usually appears in.

                              1. re: shoelace

                                Not mushy if you use baby okra (frozen)

                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                  youre in ny, right? ive seen frozen okra, but never frozen baby okra- where do i get that?

                                  bring on the recipe

                                  1. re: shoelace

                                    I bought the frozen baby okra about 6 weeks ago in Gourmet Glatt, I do not recall exactly how I cooked it but it was well received.

                                    1. re: shoelace

                                      I'm in ny, Brooklyn. The baby okra is labelled Egyptian or the picture looks like tiny okra. They're the size of the top part of my thumb.

                                      Very easy to prepare and reheats well
                                      Sauté onion and garlic
                                      Add a bag of frozen okra (16oz)
                                      Add in salt & white pepper
                                      Pour in a 14 (or 15oz) can of tomato sauce
                                      Use the can to measure the same amount of water, add to the pot
                                      Give the mixture a stir, then add in several dried apricots and prunes.
                                      Let it simmer on the lowest fire possible, til it's very thick and dried fruit is falling apart. (1hr maybe?)
                                      It should be soupy and thick- if it looks like the liquid is drying up add more water.

                                      Some people use tamarind (gives it a sweet/tart flavor). I add some when I have it on hand.

                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                        Thank you. This will definitely be our Friday night vegetable.
                                        I have friends in Deal and I hope they can get me the baby okra. If not I'll be just use the frozen Pathmark ones.

                                        1. re: helou

                                          Shalom grocery in deal should have the baby okra. (Not sure it says what it is on the package- may just have Arabic writing and a picture of small okra)

                                2. re: cheesecake17

                                  Okay, I want the fab okra recipe. I love okra.
                                  I sometimes go to some of the Syrian,/Middle-Eastern restaurants around Kings Highway and the okra is usually delicious, but when I try making it at home, it's fine, but basically tastes like okra, onion, and tomato stew. I can't figure out what it's missing. And good luck trying to find out from the restaurant!

                                  1. re: helou

                                    Just posted it above. Secret is dried apricots, prunes and tamarind

                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                      Just made it. My tamarind paste was very old so I didn't want to use it, but I added lots of prunes and apricots. Delicious. This is the flavor I was after, and the sauce is nice and thick.

                                      Thanks again.

                                3. re: shoelace

                                  Shoelace, Because someone who gets over a dislike of cilantro can enjoy a world of wonderful foods rather than having to pass on the salad, stew or salsa that everyone else is enjoying.

                                  1. re: AdinaA

                                    oddly it doesnt bother me cooked- im not sure why- but raw im really not in to the taste

                        2. re: AdinaA

                          I used to faintly dislike it, and now I love it. I ask for extra at SE Asian places.

                          Interestingly, here in the UK, the word coriander is used for both the leaves (what Americans call cilantro) and the seeds (what Americans call coriander). So you need to ask!