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Shisha and Chardonnay

At Skewers, you can smoke, drink and eat classic Lebanese food.

On the other hand, if I can escape from a nice restaurant at lunch with a belly full of delicious food for under $10, I'm willing to deal with a little initial confusion up front. And this is exactly why Skewers does such steady business at lunch in its ideal location straddling the Galleria and Greenway Plaza: The lunch specials will fill you up with quality food for cheap.
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Early last week, I was planning on ducking out of the office for a quick lunch trip to Skewers; the booths provide an excellent opportunity for quality "alone time" and you can watch either CNN or Al Jazeera on the flat-screen TVs that are mounted to the walls. But a friend caught me as I was leaving and tagged along upon learning I was reviewing a place down the street from his house.

"I've always wondered about Skewers," he said. "But I've never eaten there."

The baked chicken and hummus make a lovely, low-cost lunch during the week.
Troy Fields
The baked chicken and hummus make a lovely, low-cost lunch during the week.

Location Info

Map

Skewers Cafe & Grill

3991 Richmond
Houston, TX 77027

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Greenway Plaza

Details

11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays through Saturdays, noon to 10 p.m. Sundays.
Grape leaves: $3.99
Hummus: $4.99
Baba ghanoush: $4.99
Baked chicken lunch special: $8.99
Gyro lunch special: $8.99
Skewers salad: $9.99
Kafta kebab: $11.99
Lamb chops: $17.99
Hookah: $12.99


Read More:
Slideshow: A Lebanese Lunch at Skewers
Blog post: Low-cost lunch at Skewers.


Skewers
3991 Richmond, 713-599-1444.

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"Why not?" I asked. "It's great, espe­cially at lunch."

"I dunno," he ­replied. "Maybe it's the name."

Admittedly, the name does tend to impart a certain Chotchkie's-esque chain-restaurant aesthetic to a place that's anything but. On the other hand, it's been called Skewers for ten years now. I don't think it would be wise for them to change it now.

Over a meal of gyro, baked chicken and expertly cooked okra and green beans, it was clear that a chain restaurant was the furthest thing from his mind.

"This is the best hummus I've ever had," he enthused. It wasn't hyperbole; Skewers truly does have fabulous hummus, as well as a baba ghanoush that retains its earthy sweetness under the dusky taste of smoke. Houston is spoiled for great Middle Eastern food, so the dishes like this that stand out so starkly at Skewers are even more impressive as a result.

The same can be said of the "skewers" themselves — the popular chicken, beef and kafta kebabs. Although the chicken and beef are quite good, it's the kafta that I find myself turning to over and over again, the seasoned ground beef consistently juicy and well seasoned with plenty of bright parsley, garlic and onions. With a side of the lemon-laced tabbouleh and an Arabic iced tea, it's a lovely summer meal that won't weigh on you all day long. And you can even add a piece of that baklava onto your lunch special for $1 more.

Other dishes can be hit or miss, like the mujaddara or the kibbeh. I wished that the sweet caramelized onions had been cooked along with the lentils and rice in the mujaddara instead of just heaped on top; much of the dish's signature flavor was missing as a result. And the kibbeh are actually much better than what you'll find in most Lebanese restaurants, never hard or over-fried, but they're underseasoned and the batter doesn't hold up well in specials like the kibbeh labaniyye. Thankfully, the garlic-spiced yogurt sauce in the kibbeh labaniyye is so good that the crumbly kibbeh itself can be overlooked.

On the other hand, simple dishes like the saffron-infused baked chicken or the lightly salted green beans sauteed with onions are the reason I will always return to Skewers: I've found my favorites and will happily stick to them. Nicely updated touches like daily happy hours and reverse happy hours on Wednesdays and Thursday don't hurt, either.

Oh, and did I mention there's belly dancing on the weekends?

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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8 comments
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Guest
Guest

Skewers was by far the worst lunch I've had in *any* Houston restaurant, ever. Crappy, dry pita, school-paste hummus, dessicated, lifeless chicken, grease abounding. Makes me shudder to remember it.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Just out of curiosity, how long ago was this? Because I've gotten the hummus four times in a row now and have never been disappointed with it. Ditto the pita bread.

Jrwright
Jrwright

Ive been here a few times and on each occasion the service has been unsatisfactory. For starters, ive found other customers wandering around unsure of the ordering process, please do something to make that clear. My issue is that both times I've been, the waitstaff has been slow, uninformed, and they've been out of things at 5 pm (make more then?). Also management, condescending. Veiled, but condescending. On a lunch break, I had been waiting for change for 10 minutes from the server. So, I proceed to go to the register up front to pay. I am then POINTED back to my seat, (seriously??) by the gentleman at the front, with a very fake smile (not cool). That's not the way to treat people that are giving you money. My prediction: won't be here long.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Same question as above - when were your visits? I ask because new owners took over late last year and there have been quite a few changes since then.

HoustonChick
HoustonChick

The apple and mint shisha was such a good call. I wonder if I can get the combo in Istanbul? I'm still thinking about those spinach and cheese pies. Delicious.

Lolo
Lolo

While you are completely entitled to your opinion about the taste of the chocolate baklava, I must point out that Skewers does NOT use Hershey's syrup or Hershey's chocolate in their chocolate baklava recipe. The chocolate syrup is actually Ghirardelli and the chocolate interior is a specialty dark chocolate. As a frequent customer, I actually asked for the ingredients before I tried the concoction (which I actually find to be delicious). I would advise you to ask before you print an assumption about the recipe.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

You're correct. I shouldn't have assumed it was Hershey's syrup, no matter how similar the taste. I'm still quite a fan of the regular baklava, however.

Ed T.
Ed T.

So I have a slightly off-topic question: what is the fascination with hookah smoking, especially among the anti-cigarette crowd?

~EdT.

 
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