Mo's Knockout Grill & Mediterranean Food

Mo Abdin is the big bear of a guy behind the counter at Mo's Knockout Grill & Mediterranean Food (7918 Kirby, 713-665-7500) in a small location near the Astrodome. Originally from Syria, he moved to the U.S. when he was 15 to box. "I was a professional fighter for ten years, but I gave it up five years ago when I became a family man and because of too many injuries," he says. As a boxer, Abdin won a WBC belt. If you don't believe him, the belt and shorts are in a frame on the wall.

In 2003, he and his father opened Ali Baba Gyros in the French Quarter. "You know, New Orleans has a crazy lifestyle, so I persuaded my dad to come back to Houston." Now Abdin, his father and his brother work together at Mo's Knockout Grill serving fast Middle Eastern food. "The secret to a good gyro is that it must be juicy and hot, and the meat must never be frozen," says Abdin. The other secret? Abdin's dad. "He's in the back making the food."

Dish enjoyed a great falafel plate, a spicy hummus dip and a kibbeh, or ground lamb and pine nut kebab. The excellent chicken shawarma plate, topped with tzatziki sauce, was wrapped in pita bread and served with French fries. While we were there, we asked Abdin if anyone had ever come into his place and challenged him to box. "No challenges yet," he laughed. "There's no one that crazy."

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