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Bread Lines

Beyond just the baked goods, Cedars Bakery draws crowds with its authentic,beyond-the-mainstream Mediterranean food.

It's the pita bread that made me investigate Cedars in the first place, after two of my favorite wine personalities — Amine Matta of Bandol Wines and Marc Borel of Bacchus — mentioned it as the best place in town for pita bread one evening over a Wednesday night wine and cupcakes pairing at 13 Celsius. Borel said that he'd been buying it for Bacchus, the new wine bar on Dunlavy, and Matta swore by it as well.

I then turned to my best friend, who is Lebanese, for her guidance on the place. Had she been there? As fate would have it, she'd just had an amazing breakfast there the week before and was itching to take me back there.

That weekend, I stood in gaping awe of the enormous brick ovens as she ordered for us in Arabic, in the swirly, looping, soft-edged Lebanese dialect of the language that sounds more like French than it does Arabic. The man behind the counter remembered her from the week before, when she'd ordered enough food for six people in one sitting. He laughed and teased her for doing the same again, then sent us to sit down while our food was made.

Sojok, with its crumbled sausage, salty cheese and pita bread, is like Lebanese chorizo.
Troy Fields
Sojok, with its crumbled sausage, salty cheese and pita bread, is like Lebanese chorizo.

Location Info

Map

Cedars Bakery

8619 Richmond Ave, A
Houston, TX 77063

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Outer Loop - SW

Details

Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Zaatar bread $1.75
Cheese zaatar bread $2.95
Harhoura veggie bread $2.50
Sojok bread $3.95
Chicken shawarma $3.99
Spinach pocket $1.25
Pita bread package (small) $1
Pita bread package (large) $1.50

READ MORE:
SLIDESHOW: Poppin' Fresh Pita at Cedars Bakery
BLOG POST: Beyond the Bakery: Lebanese Breakfast at Cedars

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It's all counter service here, and you pay once you've finished eating. That could be in 15 minutes or in several hours, although the latter is more common. You'll see large families at the other tables, eating multi-course meals that they order in stages, just as often as you'll see groups of friends like us, deciding that while the harhoura veggie mana'eesh was very good, we should also try the spinach pies for good measure, and then making a repeat visit to the counter for more food.

The harhoura, with its topping of diced tomatoes, onions and green peppers, doesn't make for ideal breakfast food, but it does make an excellent lunch "pizza." And the spinach pies, we found out, have a filling that's eerily similar in taste and texture to warak enab, Lebanese grape leaves, with a citrusy tang and slightly sour flavor despite being made with spinach. The filling pressed against all sides inside the little tri-corner pocket, spilling out with each bite.

And on these weekend mornings, which are my favorite time to visit the bustling bakery, there's another treat in store: shawarma, which is available only on Saturdays and Sundays. It's wholly authentic here, too, with only shavings of chicken or beef alongside a smear of tahini and pickled turnips bundled together inside a piece of pita bread.

Once again, my friend ended up ordering so much food that we required the use of to-go boxes — you can help yourself to these, just as with the beverages — that we trundled back up to the counter along with bags of fluffy, soft pita bread and trays of cookies studded with sesame seeds and filled with figs and pistachios. Together with our immense breakfast haul of four flatbreads, two bottled waters and two cups of tea, the entire affair came to roughly $30. Cedars seems to pride itself on this: home-cooked food and freshly baked breads and pastries that are affordable on any level.

And best of all, I found out that evening that just like pizza, mana'eesh even tastes good cold and left over, especially if you have a tub of lebne waiting alongside it in the fridge.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress

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5 comments
Lar
Lar

Sojok is actually Armenian sausage/chorizo. There is a large Armenian community in Lebanon and that is why you see sojok used in Lebanese cuisine.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

I have to admit, your affinity for middle eastern food is very apparent with the food reviews. Not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to branch out a bit. I'd want the same criticism.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

No worries, Fatty. I've got plenty of non-Middle Eastern reviews coming up. Although, to be fair, I've only reviewed two other Middle Eastern restaurants this year... And we're lucky to have a lot (roughly 150, by my count) of great Middle Eastern/Mediterranean places in Houston.

Debjgee
Debjgee

Eating a pizza made with Cedar's pita bread @BacchusHouston as I read this great review!

Mrsmike1960
Mrsmike1960

Thanks for this review...I spentmany hours as a child at my Lebanese grandmother's elbow while she cooked our weekly feast. There are not that many really good Lebanese restaurants in Houston so I will definitely be making a trip to Cedars soon.

 
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