Film and TV

The Avengers: Rise of the Shawarma

Anyone who has ever watched a movie based on a Marvel comic knows you've got to stay put until after the final credits roll. There's always a clip that alludes to the sequel, prequel or a spin-off -- but no one would have imagined that the post-credits scene from The Avengers would spark a major shawarma buzz. The less-than-a-minute scene shows the Avengers team at an unnamed restaurant eating shawarma. The setup takes place toward the end of the movie, when Iron Man (played perfectly by Robert Downey Jr.) suddenly craves a shawarma.

"Have you ever tried shawarma?" he asks Captain America (Chris Evans). "There's a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don't know what it is, but I want to try it." And with that, sales at Middle Eastern restaurants around the country and particularly on the West Coast are supposedly skyrocketing. People who have never heard of shawarma before are clamoring to find it.

After catching the movie -- in 3-D, because there's no other way to watch a superhero movie -- we found ourselves on the shawarma-craving bandwagon. Thankfully, here in Houston we know a thing or two about the shawarma -- or meat spinning on a vertical spit, thinly sliced and rolled into a soft pita. After all, we've got Shawarma King, Phoenicia's and Abdallah's -- their shawarma made Katharine Shilcutt's favorite-dishes list in 2011.

Somehow, though, we ended up at Fadi's Mediterranean and though it didn't disappoint, it didn't hit the spot, either. I had a hankering for beef -- I think superheroes would be fans of beef, the Hulk in particular -- but unfortunately, they had just started cooking the beef on the spit and it wasn't done, so we settled for chicken. The sides at Fadi's have always been better than the entrées for me, and with the shawarma came spicy hummus, baba ghanoush, a Greek salad and a mushroom salad.

The chicken shawarma came with garlic sauce, tomatoes and pickles all wrapped in a thin pita. The chicken was well-marinated, not at all dry, but it's the garlic sauce that really did it for me, flavorful but subtle. And I always ask for extra pickles and hot sauce. The pita bread was what fell short for me -- it hardened after a few minutes, making it hard to chew. The sides, as expected, were as good as I remembered. It was a meal that left me wanting to explore Houston's shawarma offerings again -- I had forgotten how good they could be. And seriously, if superheroes and demigods are eating it, it must be damn good.

Where is your favorite place for shawarma?

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Minh T Truong