December 1, 2018

Moroccan - Zoa Moroccan Kitchen - Moroccan "Street" Food in Houston

"Street Food" is how the chef/owner describes the offerings at Zoa Moroccan Kitchen, just off of Washington Avenue. You see, when you're in Morocco, you'll see your regular sit down restaurants but you'll also have your quick pick up and go food stands for the working man's quick lunch. Had I just had my memories of Morocco from my time there in 1971, and my personal cooking from books by Paula Wolfert and Kitty Morse, I might have had different expectations, expecting a so-called haute cuisine that is the kind that shows up in fancy cookbooks, and not the everyday cuisine as it is made and sold in Morocco. Here are some photos from Morocco.

Don't laugh but, this may have been my favorite meal of the Morocco trip. Of course, being a food geek, I sampled everything everywhere. And I was able to taste, first hand, dishes that I had only made based on a cookbook recipe previously.

We were on our way south and decided to pick up food for a picnic. There was a guy on the second level of this restaurant with a big pile of meat and spices that he was running through a meat grinder. He would then shape softball sized meatballs and hurl them across the room to a guy on the outside manning the charcoal grills, who would catch them in a plastic bucket, form them for kebabs and grill them. It was amazing. The meatballs at Zoa are highly recommended and for me, they brought back that nice memory.

So what I am saying is that Zoa is awesome. It's based on the assembly line, build your own food bowl, model of Subway, the various pizza places like Mod Pizza or our local Lebanese restaurants such as Fadi's or Dimassi's.

You pass through a line, ordering either one of the already crafted bowl dishes, or, you make your own, choosing from couscous, white beans or other options for your base and then topping with your kefta meatballs, lamb, beef, shrimp...all spiced per classic Moroccan spicing, and then your toppings. For less than $10 not including tax. And the pastries are fantastic. Walnut date bars, coconut citrus cookies, baked pears in a puff pastry. I would come back just for dessert here.

I love this place and hope you will get to try it soon. I recommend choosing either couscous or white beans for your base.

Dumplings - Chinese Style at Golden Dumpling House

Currently (January 2020), my favorite place for pot stickers and dumplings. The prices are reasonable and the quality is first rate. I love this place (it's one of those places where I'm already looking forward to the next visit). Prices are VERY reasonable and this is a cash only location.

On a recent trip, I actually went vegetarian and had potstickers that were filled with a delicious chopped cabbage and other Chinese greens.

Also recommended: (get a serving of their peanut sauced Dan Dan noodles for the table to sample)

Note: Golden Dim Sum, also excellent, has a second location in the same strip center. Golden Dumpling House is next to Cheng Du and H-Mart.

Mexican - Birria de Chivo Trudi's - Goat Stew

A group of us love to come here for a terrific shared meal consisting of home-made mole (aka, mole casera) in the Jalisco/Michoacan style, and the specialty dish, birria de chivo, at Birria de Chivo Trudi's. This goat stew is a regional specialty of the state of Jalisco (Guadalajara) and neighboring states have their variation on the recipe also. I'm not goat meat's biggest fan but I LOVE the goat stew here and their mole is excellent also. If you're up for making your own, check out the videos on YouTube. For me though, I'll just drop in here and let Trudi Santibañez cook up a big old bowl for me.

Trudi's is tucked into the back of a building on Hillcroft. 

It's one of those "oh my god, where is Jay sending me now?" kind of places. And the food is wonderful. Some of the nicest people you'll meet in Houston are on the staff. 

Mexican - Doña Chela's on the East Side of Houston

I recently visited my old high school on Broadway (Milby High School) to donate a collection of cookbooks to their new culinary school. Very impressive. The Pappas family had donated money in order for them to build a commercial kitchen on premises.

That side of town has changed a lot from when I was growing up there. I decided to check out Doña Chela's Mexican Restaurant on Broadway. The lunch special, "El Especial" was a great bargain at $6 plus tax and tip. Consisting of a giant tostada, a flauta, a fajita quesadilla and rice, it was an elegant sufficiency as the Brits might say.

I was blown away by the rice. Perfectly cooked. Light. Fluffy. Seasoned perfectly. Possibly the best rice I've sampled recently in Houston.

All in all a very good experience and I plan to go back. One note: although the restaurant itself is spotlessly clean, the tenants in this strip center aren't doing a great job of keeping the parking lot area clean. I would recommend to them that appearance is critical and that they and the other tenants should diligently sweep and clean in front of their locations so that it doesn't look so "bombed out".

I see that they have several locations.

Mexican - Vegetarian - Veego's Mexican Restaurant

A great find on the west side of Houston at Wilcrest and Westheimer. On recent trips to CDMX and Puebla I found myself moving away more and more from the meat heavy taco option and more to the new and excellent vegetarian restaurants there. I'm pleased to advise that the food at Veego's is very good and I recommend it. Especially the huge plate of nachos, supplemented by an agua fresca (25% jamaica and 75% horchata).

The Location:

The Sopa de Fideos (could have been done with a tad less salt)

The Pastor Taco

The nachos plate.

A cute kitten photo just because.

Boudin - Lousiana Boudin Sources - Alphabetical by Store Name

Boudin: Sources for Boudin in Louisiana
Alphabetically Listed