We Don't Have It All: My Top 5 Gaps In The Houston Food Scene

Lahpet, Burmese tea leaf salad
Lahpet, Burmese tea leaf salad
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

To say that the Houston food scene is "diverse" is certainly accurate. But that doesn't mean we don't have room to grow in terms of broadening our culinary options (and I'm not just talking about bringing the cronut to H-town). Here are five foods/cuisines/eating establishments that I think are missing from Houston.

5. Fasnachts. "Omg," I hear you say, "Holy #obscureregionalfood, Joanna. Why should I care." Okay, I acknowledge that unless you are 1) of German/Polish heritage 2) from Pennsylvania, you may not have heard of these delightful potato doughnuts fried in lard. But some of the best regional and ethnic foods (Philly cheesesteaks, hummus, bubble tea, etc.) are now global favorites, so why not my hometown donut? I swear that if Shipley's started offering fasnachts, they would easily outsell kolaches.

4. South East African Food. Houston needs more restaurants that serve African food, period. And, here's a newsflash: Africa is not a country, it's a continent comprising 54 nations and God knows how many thousands of indigenous ethnic groups (Thank you, Brits, for haphazardly drawing borders), each of which has made contributions to the cuisine we generalize as "African." The foods of various regions and countries of the continent are moderately represented in Houston thanks to Lucy Ethiopian and Finger Licking Bukateria , but largely absent are the cuisines of Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and other countries. I don't know about you, but I want some ugali.

Not just donuts, but fasnachts.
Not just donuts, but fasnachts.

3. (More) Middle Eastern Desserts. Not to say you can't find any Middle Eastern sweets in Houston, for there's good stuff to be had at Abdallah's, Phoenicia, etc. Some extended exposure to Arab cuisine, however, has alerted me to the fact that there's more, so much more, deliciousness that needs to spread to Houston. I'd give my non-existent first-born child for some good kunafa or nammora or actually any of the variety of sweet-savory Middle Eastern desserts that pair cream or cheese with honey and fruit. Leads welcome.

2. Old-School, Over-the-Top Ice Cream Parlor. Yes, I am a broken record, but almost seven months later nothing has emerged despite some feline assertions to the contrary. I know, I know: it's coming. And maybe the wait will make that first sundae taste all the sweeter ...

1. Burmese Food. Myanmar may be one of the most "closed" nations in the world, but its incredible food has nevertheless made it to the United States. Burmese cooking fuses elements from Thai, Chinese, and Indian cuisine to produce singular dishes such as lahpet (tea leaf salad), palata (fried bread with egg or mutton), and si gyet khauk swè (wheat noodles with onions, duck, and pork). Though I don't mind the excuse to go to San Francisco for Burma Superstar, I'd rather put my flight money toward eating Burmese food three times a week or more in Houston.

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Related Locations

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge

6800 SW Freeway
Houston, TX 77074


Finger Licking Bukateria

9811 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77036


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