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Dinner with Friends

Try a topsy-turvy Brazilian burger.

Meanwhile, I was simply excited to finally try a Brazilian-style hot dog; Friends had been out of the dogs and buns on my last two visits. And with the monstrous thing finally in front of me, the anticipation was finally over.

The bun was the size of two bolillos put together. Inside was a long, fat, all-beef frank, covered in thick marinara sauce and topped with corn, peas, potato sticks and a wild drizzle of mayonnaise. This is dragged through the garden, Brazilian-style. And like a classic Chicago hot dog, it tastes far better than it sounds: fresh, vibrant and vitally connected to its homeland. There's no mistaking this hot dog for anything else, and that's how Gomes likes it.
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Ronaldo Gomes and Asif Lodhi originally started Friends Pizzeria ten years ago in Somerville, a small town in Massachusetts that was Lodhi's wife's hometown. In the predominantly Portuguese and Brazilian neighborhood, Friends was a hit. But when Lodhi decided to move back to Houston, Gomes was game to try opening a similar restaurant here despite our rather small Brazilian population.

The X-Tudo burger was gone within minutes.
Troy Fields
The X-Tudo burger was gone within minutes.

Location Info

Map

Friends Pizzeria

7952 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77063

Category: Restaurant > Brazilian

Region: Outer Loop - SW

Details

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays
• X-Tudo burger: $6.95
• X-Picanha burger: $7.95
• Mixta pizza: $9.95
• Gaucha pizza: $9.95
• Four Cheese pizza: $9.95
• Hot dog: $5.95
• Strawberry cream: $4.95


READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: Brazilian Burgers & More at Friends Pizzeria
BLOG POST: The Brazilian Burger: Bedlam on a Bun

"It was very, very hard," says Lodhi. Finding a space that didn't charge $7,000 or $8,000 a month was a struggle. "We can't afford to have those fancy-dancy things," he said. They just wanted a little shop with low overhead, and they finally found it next to Genji — the Japanese karaoke bar — on Westheimer near Hillcroft and opened three months ago.

Like Genji, Friends stays open late into the night: 3:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. A perfect one-two punch of international festivities is to get howling mad on sake at Genji and work your lungs out singing karaoke, then toddle next door to Friends afterward for some recuperative pizza and burgers. Wings and pasta and even regular pepperoni pizzas are also on the menu for those not interested in a temporary trip to Rio. And although it doesn't currently serve alcohol, Friends should receive its liquor license soon.

On the weekends, you'll find more Brazilians in the small space than Americans. Lodhi tends to everyone who comes in as if he were hosting people in his own home; the dining room is sparsely decorated for now but feels cozy nevertheless, due largely to Lodhi's bright smile and welcoming presence. He's happy to walk newcomers through the menu, too: "Lot of people come in here, open the door and say, 'What is this?' They're used to Fogo de Chão down the street," he laughs. He is quick to point them to his favorites: that gloriously greasy X-Picanha burger, and the Four Cheese pizza with delicate ovals of catupiry cheese on top.

On our last visit, we ordered another of Lodhi's favorites: strawberry cream. Along with papaya cream, it's one of the most popular desserts in Brazil. Right now, papayas are largely unavailable because of a salmonella contamination, but the strawberries are in season, uncontaminated and ideal for this summer dessert. In its simplest incarnation, strawberry cream is just strawberries blended with vanilla ice cream into a kind of shake-in-a-bowl, garnished with more strawberries on top.

Here at Friends Pizzeria, it was almost a combination of frozen yogurt and strawberry shake, sweet and cool and soft. We ate it like children. And as we finished, Mandy looked at the bowl — and at the rest of the empty plates on our table — and gave a happy sigh.

"I don't really ­understand what this is, but I like it."

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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9 comments
Bguy101
Bguy101

These guys are SOOOOOOO RUDE!!!!!! - I will never return, They screwed up my order so instead of a remake they just pulled off some toppings added what was missing (uncooked) and handed it back to me - YUK!! they shouted at me for having the nerve to complain about their screw up. They broke health violations when they took a pizza that was on my table in the back and re worked on it. This place does not deserve your business

Owner ronaldo g is a real Jerk - I posted this review on Yelp and he told me to "Get a Life Fat A**" This is the caliber of people that you are dealing with, There are plenty of places in this city that are respectful and are willing to earn your business.

AshelyWine502016
AshelyWine502016

I just p a i d $21 for an i P a d 2-64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasonîc Lumîx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38 there arriving tomorrow by UPS.I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from BídsFírst.Com

Blaze Hauser
Blaze Hauser

onde esta o meu portugues salsicha ou frango na sopa em Houston? Brazilian food is too much this and that for my taste.

seasincarnadine
seasincarnadine

K-- I don't know how you feel about uptown sushi's sushi, but one of my favorite meals sofar off of the restaurant month menu was a Kobe burger from there. The sprouts add an unnecessary, weird, texture but the combination of the fall-apart patty, pesto sauce and chev cheese is pretty outstanding. I fancy myself a man's man, so I hate admitting I like such a fru fru burger. What is even harder to admit, is the dipping sauce for the fries. I don't know what it is, but I'd guess blue cheese, mayo and lemon juice. I make fun of my foreign friends for their affinity to dipping chips in mayo, but this was addictive.

csoakley
csoakley

Why!?! Why do you do this to me? I'm in training for the Houston Marathon and you're not helping!!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Good question. I heard a Portugese/Angolan place opened near Phoenicia recently. Going to check it out this weekend...

Dante
Dante

Why can't you have one of these after a long run?

Blaze Hauser
Blaze Hauser

Awesome, I go to Phoenicia every pay day, do tell us how the food is, and whether the piri piri is nice and hot

csoakley
csoakley

I think it would take a 26.2 mile long run to work off one of these bad boys. If they're open January 16th then I may drop by.

Plus, I'd like to drop about 40 more lbs before I hit the start line in January. In order to accomplish that I think step one needs to be: "Stop reading this blog".

 
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