The real reason I had actually come to Phoenicia, I explained to Woody and his wife, was to do my annual holiday handout shopping. This tradition started a few years ago when we pulled into Phoenicia on our way out of town. We were visiting friends and relatives in Austin for the holidays and we needed little gifts to hand over when we showed up at their houses. A bottle of wine is the usual door-knocker gift, but if you're stopping in on lots of friends, wine can get expensive.

The array of items and price points for this sort of stuff at Phoenicia is staggering. I tend to think of Phoenicia as a Middle Eastern food store, but according to their Web site, the place "specializes in imported foods from around the world including France, Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Germany, Lebanon, Chile, Argentina, Portugal, Syria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Russia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Armenia, Brazil and Sweden." If you like craft projects, you can make your own gift boxes with the unusual jams, jellies, weird tea bags, hard-to-find nut oils, spice blends, dried fruits, nuts and the rest of the exotic imported stuff they sell at Phoenicia.

Personally, I just grab whatever is handy. This year I picked up some lovely dark-blue bags of chocolate-covered fruits for $4.29 each, gift boxes of chocolate-dipped biscotti decorated with red ribbon for $6.99 each and a fabulous two-pound fruit and nut assortment.

Don't forget to ask for extra garlic mayo with your kebab.
Troy Fields
Don't forget to ask for extra garlic mayo with your kebab.

Location Info


Phoenicia Specialty Foods

12141 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77077

Category: Restaurant > Mediterranean

Region: Memorial


Hours:8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays;8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Closed Christmas Day.

Chicken shawarma wrap: $4.95

Kebab pita wrap: $4.95

Moussaka: $6.99

Almond-semolina cake: $1

Cappuccino: $2.75

12141 Westheimer, 281-558-8225.

The $15 fruit and nut assortment comes in a big, round plastic tray and includes shelled pistachios, lots of almonds and cashews, dried apricots and dried cranberries. This is the perfect gift to give to the people who are putting you up. A few years ago, I gave this assortment to some health-minded hosts who are known to prefer raw carrot sticks and celery stalks as snacks. It saved me from what might have been some very boring cocktail hours.

Whether you are looking for a cheap gift, a quick lunch or a spectacular ethnic spread to entertain a large crowd on a tight budget, Phoenicia is a great place to stretch your holiday cheer.

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