Vegetarians have plenty of options around Houston, but for decades, their best bet was Hobbit Cafe and the tabouli-filled Thorin Oakenshield remains a classic.
Vegetarians have plenty of options around Houston, but for decades, their best bet was Hobbit Cafe and the tabouli-filled Thorin Oakenshield remains a classic.
Photo by Jeff Balke

Houston's Best Sandwiches: The Thorin Oakenshield at Hobbit Cafe

We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!

For many years, there were very few places to get decent vegetarian cuisine in Houston. This was Texas after all. If you weren't carving a steak or crushing some barbecue, folks looked at you suspiciously. That was back before the oil boom went bust. Since then, we've had a sports owner who supported PETA and an explosion of young people trying to be healthy.

But, before restaurants started offering vegan (let along vegetarian) options on their menus, there was Hobbit Cafe. The funky little hippie cafe dedicated to all things JRR Tolkien offered all kinds of dishes most meat eaters would look at with equal parts disdain and confusion.

Hobbit may have added meat options along the way and changed locations, but it never lost the Tolkien-inspired decor or menu items, and it still makes hella good veggie fare. Enter the Thorin Oakenshield, named after that tough little dwarf from The Hobbit. It comes stuffed with tabouli and mushrooms, covered in melted cheese (we recommend adding a slab of avocado as well) and it is so good, you'll forget it doesn't have meat. Actually, you won't care.

The thick slices of bread are toasted until nearly bark brown allowing them to hold up to the muddled interior. The perfect bite includes the noticeable zip of lemon and garlic. It's remarkably bright and light for a sandwich with such a melange of soft, gooey bits on the inside. The key is the addition of mushrooms, which adds that meaty umami and some subtle texture.

I was a vegetarian for a decade and even though I have long since gone back to the flesh (at least when it comes to meals), the Thorin Oakenshield is still on my list of great sandwich options. And you don't have to live in the Shire to enjoy it.

If you have a sandwich you think is one of the best in town, hit us up. We're always looking for new options.

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