Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Halal Food Al-Arabi

Almeda @ Hepburn (between OST and 610), in the parking lot of a Texaco station

I'd seen this little truck several times when headed down Almeda, about a mile south of the intersection with OST where Gyro King and Abou Omar's halal stands hold forth, but it had never been open.  It turns out it's open only in the evening.  The sign on the side says Mediterranean Food, on the back one proclaims Halal Food, but shields on the hood and one of the cabinets on the rear give the Al-Arabi name.

I wanted to try the Koftah Halabi pictured but it's not available.  In fact, none of the dishes pictured on the side of the truck are served anymore, only sandwiches/wraps made with either chicken or lamb.  I think it's a very small menu.

I got what was called an Iraqi Kabob - lamb (gyro meat), freshly grilled, with grilled white onion and tomato, mixed salad greens including lettuce, red onion and more tomato I think, dressed with tahini sauce and a hot sauce that provided a pleasant heat, wrapped up in a 9" pita.  It was a good sandwich, really hit the spot.  I wish the truck was closer to me as I don't get over that way very often.

One of the other sauces visible in the window is just ketchup I understand; the fourth one I didn't inquire about.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today's News and Forecasts - UPDATED 3X

This latest edition of restaurant news from greater southwest Houston indicates the Bellaire restaurant scene continues to evolve.

Saltillo Mexican Kitchen,  5427 Bissonnet @ Chimney Rock

I was watching carefully for this one to open and it's been open almost a month now.  I went in by the end of the first week and the place was already packed for evening service.

This is the new place by the owner of the short-lived but acclaimed Mexican steak house La Casa del Caballo in Montrose.  The menu is beef-centric and includes the 4 pound plus Tapa de Lomo rib-eye cap for $190 but the former eatery was famous for it's enchiladas, too, and that's what drew me in.

I had the Enchiladas Saltillo, 3 chicken enchiladas in a sauce made from 5 kinds of chiles, with chihuahua cheese and sesame seeds.  I also had the Hearts of Palm Ceviche with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice and olives, with hearts of palm substituting for any seafood and looking just like scallops.  Service was virtually flawless, remarkable for a new eatery.

This is not the type of Mexican restaurant where you get a huge basket of chips and salsa.  There are four salsas brought to the table to use as you wish and they are meant to be used more as garnishes or relishes than as dips, though you can get a small saucer of warm, thick chips by asking for it.  I passed on the chips but some were brought to my table anyway; I wasn't charged for them.  The salsas range from a mild tomatillo salsa verde to a tomato and red jalapeno based one with a little more heat, then a minced red onion and habanero with lime and orange juices and olive oil, and at the most intense end of the scale, one made with green papaya and habanero.  The servers were explaining the salsas to each table.

Judging by the crowd I experienced, I'd say Bellaire is ready for this kind of upscale Mexican place and it's certainly a very welcome addition to my grazing grounds.

Saltillo Mexican Kitchen

Tapester's Grill, 4520 Beechnut @ Newcastle

This is a new family-style neighborhood eatery across from the Southwest Houston Police Station on Beechnut.  It's a very welcoming modern space with a patio on the back side, away from the traffic on Beechnut.  When I went in there were lots of families with small children and a few tables with older couples.

I had the Bratwurst on a Housemade French Roll with housemade chips.  The online menu describes this as thin sliced turkey pastrami for some reason.

I didn't get a good look at any of the other menu items except the 1/3 pound burgers which were obviously a popular choice; they looked pretty good.

Tapester's Grill

Suzie's Grill, the kosher (meat) restaurant that has operated out of a tiny space in a Chevron station at Beechnut and Hillcroft for the past few years, has closed.  The website indicates the menu is available at the new kosher steakhouse Genesis on Bissonnet at Chimney Rock, in the same strip center with Saltillo.



Enoteca Rossa, 4566 Bissonnet @ Avenue B, just inside Loop 610

The former much-loved Daniel Wong's Kitchen, which has been closed for over a year now, is about to open as an Italian restaurant with wood-fired kitchen.  The building is hardly recognizable.  A banner announcing they're hiring staff has gone up so the opening must be soon.


(The picture was taken through the windshield on a rainy day).

Salt 'n Pepper Indo-Pak and Mediterranean Restaurant and Banquet Hall, 9619 SW Freeway @ Bissonnet

The banner indicates it's opening soon.  A url given in a sign on the front door leads nowhere and I have not been able to find anything for this online except a white pages listing but will add a link when one becomes available.



Philippine Community Center, 9101 West Bellfort @ Riceville School Road

The exterior cladding is all but complete but the weeds have gotten so tall I couldn't get a decent picture from the front.  These pictures, from a blog on the northwest side, appear to me to be more pictures of this one.

Gujarati Samaj Center, W. Bellfort @ Beltway 8

There hasn't been anything going on at the future site of this sports complex, unfortunately, but someday no doubt.

Indo American News article from last February

And just what are these items about cultural centers doing on a blog that's supposed to be about food?  I keep hoping that all of these cultural institutions will spur some sort of restaurant activity in the immediate vicinity.  Of course the Raindrop Center, Istanbul Conference Center and India House, all along this same stretch of West Bellfort, haven't had any such consequences but I can still dream.  Maybe a food court with stalls from each -- or a couple of food trucks?????