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Pita in the Park

Niko Niko's outpost offers standards, surrounded by skyscrapers.

The new Niko Niko's seems to have something for everyone.

If you want breakfast, Niko Niko's has you covered. Coffee and pastries? It offers those too. A surprisingly romantic, candlelit dinner in the park that won't blow your entire paycheck? Yes. And, perhaps most important given its location, an ideal lunchtime destination.

Aside from the breakfast pitas, my favorite thing about the food stand is its smart box lunches. For less than $10, you can walk away with an enormous sandwich — your choice from the menu's selection of six standards, like souvlaki or gyro — as well as a generous helping of pita chips, garlicky hummus and a large cup of tart Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts for dessert. Grab the felafel sandwich or the veggie pita, and you're also looking at a tremendously healthy lunch that will keep you full until well past dinner.

Enjoy your falafel box lunch outside.
Troy Fields
Enjoy your falafel box lunch outside.

Location Info

Map

Niko Niko's Market Square

301 Milam St.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

• BLOG POST: Breakfast in the Park at Niko Niko's Market Square.

• SLIDESHOW: Opa! Niko Niko's Livens Up Market Square

Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays through Sundays.

Felafel breakfast pita: $3.93

Spartan breakfast pita: $3.93

Greek yogurt & honey: $3

Greek salad: $5.54

Box lunch: $9.93

Gyro sandwich: $5.54

Souvlaki sandwich: $6.93

Chicken Philly: $6.47

Cappuccino: $3

Papoutsakia: $8.95

Niko Niko's

301 Milam, 713-224-4976.

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The box lunches are easily transported back to the office, but it's far more fun to sit in the park if you have the time. I have no idea how popular this will be when Houston's scorching summers start suffocating the city around June, but for now it's wonderful to grab your lunch early — between 11 and 11:30 a.m. — and watch as the office workers descend en masse from the skyscrapers and decamp onto the park from all four of its corners. By noon, the line is quite long, but it usually moves quickly.

Dinners are even more pleasant and — in a funny twist — much more accessible than a regular dinner at the original Niko Niko's location. Although that restaurant is now much enlarged, as is the parking lot, there is almost always a wait for parking and for your food. In Market Square, the parking is free after 6 p.m. and you can usually park very easily along one of the four surrounding streets (Travis, Milam, Congress or Preston). And there's hardly ever a wait.

On that night of the papoutsakia and the chicken Philly, I sat grinning like a fool at the lights from the skyscrapers beyond the park, taking in the view between bites of the stuffed eggplant, one of the rotating specials that Niko Niko's brings over from time to time. Soft scents of cinnamon and nutmeg wafted up warmly from the ground beef tucked inside the eggplant, all swaddled under a thick blanket of the béchamel sauce that's one of Niko Niko's greatest accomplishments, creamy and velvety under a barely crispy top that's been broiled ever-so-briefly. The dish isn't too far removed from the restaurant's moussaka — one of my longtime favorites.

I took a few bites of my friend's chicken Philly after he set it down to grab alternating bites of my potatoes and salad, and found it good, although a bit bland for my liking. "The chicken could stand to be seasoned more aggressively," I told him, handing it back.

He just glared at me.

"You can't say this isn't good," he finally said, looking personally affronted.

"It is good!" I sputtered. "It is! I'm just saying...Just a little constructive criticism. Geez." And with that, we both went back to enjoying our meals, him eyeing the sandwich he was devouring with an oddly paternal look now.

That immediate sense of protection people have about the place — staunchly defending a longtime Houston favorite even at the slightest perceived offense — will ensure that the Market Square version of Niko Niko's will be popular off the bat in its first year. But the continued effort and talent put into its wonderful food will hopefully ensure its continued popularity for years to come.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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6 comments
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Dan
Dan

How were they able to get a permit when there are no restrooms? No other business owner would be allowed to do this?

Old Salty
Old Salty

There are restrooms. They're in the rear of the kiosk. What are you talking about?

Pregomi2
Pregomi2

When will they add a location in the Heights? There is a great location at 18th Street and T. C. Jester that is vacant and waiting for the fine Greek-American dishes that only Niko-Niko's can serve, did you all see Niko-Niko's on the Food channel's Dinner's, Drive-in's, and Dive's? All I can say about Niko-Niko's is OOPH!

Craig
Craig

What's up with all you DWEEBS tweeting about this?

Don't y'all have a single creative bone in your body?

 
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