16 MARCH 18.2005
www.houstonvoicexotn HOUSTON VOICE
OPEN 24 HOURS
OPEN for Breakfast,
Lunch and Dinner with a full bar
7 DAYS a week
Early Morning and Late Night
Additional Parking Available
Next to Hollywood Video
Size Doesn't Matter.
1220 Taft Street
Houston Texas 77019
Full Service Catering
Carry Outs & Delivery
From Breakfast to Late Dinners
Fort Lauderdale Real Estate
Put Cokfwell Banker's
Top Producer to work for You
For outstanding kabobs and baklava as well as
tabouli and scrumptious, hot pita bread, head
out Richmond to Mary'z Mediterranean Cuisine
I LOVE GOOD MEDITERRANEAN
food. So it was with great anticipation
that I headed out Richmond to try out
The location seemed familiar, and it
finally dawned on me that this was the
home of Sammy's Lebanese, before a tragic fire. I hoped it was a good sign that
Mary'z owners were also Lebanese.
The restaurant itself is like a small
house, much like the old Sammy's. There's
a porch out front, parking in the back, and
the interior has an upscale feel, with
maroon carpets and faux-marble tabletops.
A split-level dining area creates intimacy,
while providing plenty of seating.
The menu has all the usual suspects
and no real surprises. One lunch visit, I
started out with a half order of tabouli
($2.75), which proved to be an ample portion, as are most of the half orders on the
menu. The tabouli is tangy with lemon
and has plenty of parsley. More bulgher
wheat might add heartiness, but that's a
small quibble for such a fresh, light treat.
For a light meal, try one of the sandwiches, which are rolled up in the thin,
delicious pita bread and wrapped with tin
foil - perfect for take out. The lamb kabob
sandwich ($4.25) is an excellent choice.
The lamb was tender and succulent, with
a hint of allspice. Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and tahini fill out the sandwich,
adding plenty of flavor.
It's possible to make a meal from the
appetizer selections. The fried kibbi ($0.95),
filled with ground beef, pinenuts and
almond slivers, are warm and filling. The
falafel (3 for $1.95) was not the very best I've
had, but the garlic sauce is addictive.
Both the hummus ($2.85 for half serv-
ing/$4.45 for whole) and baba gannouge
($2.75/$4.25) were strangely lacking in garlic and heavy on the lemon. The baba gannouge could benefit from a stronger eggplant flavor, but overall both are tasty and
come with the delicious thin pita bread.
The platters come with salad or vegetable and dip. The beef shwarma ($9.95)
was more like a beef stew than the thinly
sliced beef I'd expected. It was served on
pita bread, which quickly became soggy.
The fattouch salad on the side was large
enough to be a meal, and refreshingly
light, with cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce
and parsley in a lemony dressing.
Vegetarians will find plenty to eat at
Mary'z, including a good selection of vegetable dishes, all available in half and
whole servings. The eggplant ($2.45/$3.95)
is the standout - garlicky, tangy and tender, it's a real find. Order a whole serving
- half isn't enough. The cauliflower
($2.45/$3.95) is panfried until golden
brown. It's sweet and tender, but could do
with some seasoning. The potatoes
2.45/$3.95) are pan fired as well and
loaded with garlic, which isn't mentioned
on the menu, plus lemon and parsley.
IT'S EASY TO NOSH YOUR WAY
around the menu at Mary'z, but save room
for dessert. The baklava ($1.25) is excellent
and the servings are sizable. Both walnut
and pistachio are available. Our waitress
described the cream baklava ($1.45) as
"baklava with cream", which wasn't at all
what it turned out to be. Instead it was
fried dough filled with a something akin to
clotted cream, and served in a pool of rose
syrup. It was delicious, but entirely different from what had been described.
Service can be a problem at Mary'z,
mostly because English is not the staff's
first language and communication can
be difficult. The food is prepared to
order, which means it's fresh and delicious, but can also take awhile. Still, the
staff is very friendly and aims to be as
helpful as possible.
Alcohol is not served at Mary'z, but
hookahs are available. It wasn't clear if you
could order a hookah for the table, and
they're not on the menu, but patrons were
puffing away each time I visited. No doubt
interested parties would be able to partake.
Mary'z offers very reasonably priced
Mediterranean food in a pleasant atmosphere. With a convenient location on
Richmond, plenty of parking, and good
food, it's worth a visit.
Value: w w w w
r= Stay home and eat cereal
** = Well, if you really must
WW w • Fine for all but the finicky
W w W w -Worth more than a
W w W w w =As good as you'll
find in this city