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Eating to Live in the Third Ward

You won't miss meat at Conscious Cafe, perhaps the only National of Islam-influenced restaurant in town.

On my first visit to the Cafe, I was sneezing up a storm thanks to some stubborn allergies. After introducing himself — "Tell me your name and I'll remember you from now on!" he said jovially as he explained the menu — he insisted on making me some echinacea tea, which he sweetened with honey before bringing it out. All of the teas here, like the coffees, are organic and brewed fresh. Although it was probably placebo effect, I felt better the moment that hot cup hit my hands and my sinuses.

On my second visit, Lewis surely remembered my name once again and later chivalrously helped me to my car with packages full of food (the sandwiches don't travel well over long distances, by the way) while pointing out where the parking will be along the street once construction on Scott is finally finished.

Hudson is quieter than Lewis, but always has a bright smile for anyone who walks in, making you feel right at home as you wait for your food. As Lewis has pointed out twice now, they welcome call-ahead orders if you're in a rush — everything is made fresh to order and can take a little while — but I've never minded waiting and relaxing in the stark but warm little dining room.

Popular: the gourmet salmon burger.
Troy Fields
Popular: the gourmet salmon burger.

Location Info

Map

Conscious Cafe

2612 Scott Street
Houston, TX 77004

Category: Restaurant > Soul Food

Region: Third Ward

Details

8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Salmon burger: $6.99

Vegetable po-boy: $5.99

Eggplant hoagie: $5.99

Toasted avocado sandwich: $5.99

Lentil soup: $2.99

Bean pie: $1.99

Loose leaf tea: $2

Organic coffee: $2

Fruit smoothie: $3.99

Conscious Cafe

2612 Scott, 713-658-9191.

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I'm curious to see how this cafe, which is clearly already popular with the neighborhood, comes to life during the school year at the nearby University of Houston. The herbal teas, luscious fruit smoothies and organic coffees served with raw milk — one of the only cafes in Houston to offer raw milk, I might add — seem a perfect fit for the collegiate set. But on a winter evening over the holiday break, it's mostly quiet here, ideal for catching up over a toasted sandwich and some wonderfully garlicky lentil soup.

"I can't get enough of this bread," my dining companion raved one night. He's right: The hearty, slightly sweet, whole wheat bread here is what makes the sandwiches so amazing, a thick buffer holding in a garden's worth of sautéed eggplant and onions in my favorite, the Eggplant Hoagie. It works equally well with the sweet caramelized onions, zucchini and squash in the Vegetable Po-Boy, which I washed down one sunny afternoon with a strawberry smoothie.

It feels good to eat this food, especially here in the unlikeliest of locations on a quiet street in the Third Ward. But that's also what makes Conscious Cafe so special. That and the bean pie.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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