100 Favorite Dishes: No. 71, Shawarma at Abdallah's
Photo by Troy Fields
This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
Shawarma, doner kebab, al pastor: Whatever you call it, thinly shaved meat on a rotating, vertical spit is highly popular both above and below the 30th parallel north. So it makes sense that Houston would have some excellent examples of this favored old cooking technique. And some of the best shawarma comes from Abdallah's, just north of the Mahatma Gandhi District.
Abdallah's chicken, shaved from the spit, is soft and fine but lightly crisped on the edges from the heat. The tahini is tangy, with an aggressive pop of garlic. Pickled turnips are crisp and bright. And the soft, thin pita bread that holds it all together is made fresh by Abdallah's every day, grilled ever so slightly to bring all the ingredients in line.
It's the kind of shawarma that recently converted a non-believer, a Lebanese friend of mine who was convinced that there was no good shawarma in Houston. And while it's not strictly authentic by Lebanese standards (see the tomatoes in that picture? strike those and you're good), it's too tasty to otherwise deny.
The list so far:
No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19 No. 85: Falafel from Zabak's No. 84: Buttermilk-fried pork loin with fried eggs at Canopy No. 83: Grillades and grits from BB's Cajun Cafe No. 82: Haemul dolsot from Seoul House No. 81: Pandan waffles at Parisian Bakery III No. 80: Pita bread and hummus at Phoenicia No. 79: Goat pepper soup at Peppersoup Cafe No. 78: Melon and Texas feta salad from Beaver's No. 77: Hot Italian beef from BB's Beef & Hot Dog No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe No. 75: Pancakes from Fountain View Cafe No. 74: Hobnobs from Fluff Bake Bar No. 73: Chu chee eggplant from Nidda Thai No. 72: Sausage sampler from King's Biergarten
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