Café Rita on Dairy Ashford just north of Memorial is one of the city's best Middle Eastern restaurants. It's a buffet line, but don't bother making your own selections. Just tell George Sarikhanian, the gregarious cashier/owner, that you like your Middle Eastern food spicy. But be careful what you wish for. The Armenian kebabs are very hot. And the Armenian bean soup tastes like chili.
George's wife Rita does all the cooking. She doesn't believe in food processors -- she cuts everything by hand. Come early if you want some of the traditional Middle Eastern fava bean breakfast soup called foul. Rita's version is loaded with lemon and garlic. If they have the kebabs with alternating rounds of marinated eggplant and seasoned ground beef patties, don't miss them. Be sure and get some of Rita's outrageous garlic sauce with whatever you get, and here's also a fiery red pepper spread called mouhammara you'll want to try.
If you're catering a lunch, ask for "Rita's Sampler," and George will put together a variety of appetizers and kebab plates for you. A big spread for four people is $41.95.