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Around the World in Houston: Discover the Middle East

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Photograph courtesy of Arab American Cultural & Group Middle

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in each nook and cranny of city, Houston is one among the most ethnically numerous cities in America. To rejoice this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a brand new area of the globe via a Houston lens every week, from annual festivals and museums to eating places and cultural experiences. Be a part of the journey with our Around the World in Houston collection.

This week, we’ll check out the meals, tradition, and traditions of the Middle East, from Palestinian and Lebanese festivals to eating places serving falafel, shawarma, and tadig. Take a look at our Around the World guides for a deeper dive into Egypt, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Occasions

  • Houston Lebanese Pageant – Held in the spring and hosted by the American Lebanese Cultural Middle, this weekend-long pageant celebrates Lebanese tradition and heritage via reveals, scrumptious meals, steady leisure, and enjoyable actions that may transport you to the land of the cedars.
  • Houston Palestinian Pageant – Each spring, the Palestinian American Cultural Middle Houston places on a Palestinian cultural pageant. The occasion options folkloric and modern music and dance, conventional trend, a grand bazaar of distributors and artwork, and Palestinian delicacies.
  • Houston Turkish Pageant – This annual pageant contains a grand bazaar providing souvenirs, arts and crafts; conventional music and dance programming; and genuine eats, together with kebabs, grape leaves, sujuc, Turkish espresso and extra.
  • Houston Iranian Movie Pageant – Established by the Museum of Effective Arts Houston and Rice Cinema, this annual movie pageant has been operating for 25 years. Screenings happen at each venues and at Asia Society Texas Middle, with previous movies together with Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman in 2017, which went on to win the Academy Award for greatest overseas language movie; and Breath, Iran’s submission for the 2018 awards.
  • Houston Jewish Movie Pageant – This annual movie pageant presents a thought-provoking lineup of a few of the greatest Jewish and Israeli movies from throughout the world, that includes entertaining and high-quality documentaries, dramas, comedies, and musicals.
  • Houston Turkish Movie Pageant – Hosted at the Museum of Fantastic Arts, Houston this annual movie pageant focuses on new and distinctive movies from Turkish cinema.
  • Houston Palestinian Movie Pageant – The Museum of High quality Arts, Houston hosts this annual movie pageant, showcasing an unbiased view of Palestine and its diaspora’s society, tradition, and political efforts by means of the artwork of movie. The occasion is usually held in Might.
  • Norwuz/Persian New Yr – Annually, the Iranian Cultural Basis-Houston invitations locals to the Nowruz Pageant, celebrating the Iranian/Persian New Yr in honor of the first day of spring.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • American Lebanese Cultural Middle – Based in 2014, this nonprofit celebrates the wealthy, numerous historical past and custom that makes Lebanon really one among the most original nations in the world. The group has no spiritual leanings and is each non-political and non-partisan, specializing in packages and occasions to showcase Lebanese tradition and heritage all through the yr. Comply with alongside on Fb and look out for meet & greets, picnics, vacation events, scholarship awards, and luncheons.
  • American Turkish Affiliation Houston – This native nonprofit was based in 1979, providing quite a lot of social, instructional, cultural and charitable actions, and aiming to offer help to Turkish residents dwelling in Houston.
  • Arab American Cultural & Group Middle – Shaped in 1995, the Arab-American Cultural and Group Middle is a non-profit group that gives cultural packages, outreach, and social providers. The group promotes Arab tradition and heritage, serves as a liaison and useful resource middle, and sponsors social and academic occasions like tradition night time. Its summer time camp curriculum presents an introduction to Arabic courses for teenagers in three ranges.
  • Egyptian American Society of Houston – This group group promotes Egyptian-American heritage and tradition and connects Egyptian-People dwelling in Houston, from artists, professionals and scientists to builders, businessmen and enterprise ladies.
  • Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Group Middle – Since 1936, the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Group Middle has been a spot the place households and people come collectively for friendship, affiliation, and socialization. The group promotes the improvement and strengthening of Jewish id, fostering Jewish values and enriching the Jewish group and the higher group. Its packages cowl every part from early childhood to senior providers; and the middle even hosts an in-house café, Laykie’s Gourmand Cafe at the J.
  • Iranian Cultural Basis-Houston – A non-profit, non-political group with no spiritual affiliation, Iranian Tradition Basis-Houston goals to foster the instructional, social and charitable pursuits of the Iranian-American group, selling the appreciation of Persian tradition. The inspiration provides Iranian vacation celebrations, cultural and historic showcases, charitable occasions, live shows, lectures, and youth and language packages.
  • Palestinian American Cultural Middle Houston – This cultural group unites and empowers the Palestinian American group in and round the Houston space, selling cultural, instructional, and humanitarian packages. Comply with its Fb web page for upcoming occasions and group updates.
  • Raindrop Turkish Home – Based by Turkish-People in Houston in 2000, this nonprofit ladies’s affiliation now operates in six states: Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and New Mexico. The inspiration goals to domesticate friendship and promote understanding of numerous cultures, establishing bridges between the Turkish and American cultures and communities by offering simply accessible instructional, social and cultural providers. Register for cooking and language courses, espresso nights and extra.
  • Arts of the Historic World at the Menil Assortment – The Menil’s holdings of artwork from the historic world span a powerful 20,000 years of inventive achievements, with over 600 items of Paleolithic artifacts and objects from the civilizations of the historic Mediterranean, Egypt, and the Close to East.
  • Corridor of Historic Egypt at the Houston Museum of Pure Science – This everlasting assortment showcases the historic Egyptian civilization, which flourished for greater than three millennia in the Sahara desert. See the main civilization in its full glory, from hieroglyphics artifacts collected throughout these early days of exploration to reveals evaluating old-style archaeology with 21st-century approaches. The Museum even has its personal mummy, Ankh Hap.
  • Museum of Wonderful Arts, Houston – The Artwork of the historic world assortment greets museum guests in the atriums of the Audrey Jones Beck Constructing. Glowing with pure mild, works from historic Egypt embrace a spectacular coffin of the priest Pedi-Osiris and a uncommon sculpture of the god Thoth as an ibis. The Artwork of the Islamic Worlds assortment showcases the numerous inventive traditions of Islamic land, with objects starting from carpets and architectural fragments to ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, scientific devices, and manuscripts.

Middle Japanese Meals & Drink

Eating places & Cafes

  • Al Aseel Grill & Café – Nosh on Palestinian hen at this well-liked Middle Japanese grillhouse, situated on the westside. The Musakhan hen comes roasted by the entire or half, smothered in a mix of onion and sumac and set atop heat flatbread. It’s also possible to get the hen spiced and crispy fried.
  • Alwadi Mediterranean Sandwiches – It’s not nearly pita sandwiches at his Mediterranean and Middle Japanese grill; you can too get delights incorporating tradition, flavors, preparations and culinary inspiration from Lebanon, Italy, and Greece. Head right here for hummos, baba ghanouj, kibbe, falafel, shawarma and basbousa, a standard Middle Japanese dessert comprised of semolina and soaked in syrup.
  • Avesta Persian Grill – Situated in the Westchase Buying Middle, this neighborhood restaurant and grill combines genuine Persian and Middle Japanese delicacies, with menu gadgets from tadig (golden crusted rice) and gormeh sabzi (inexperienced herb stew with beef) to fesenjan (hen stew flavored with pomegranate and walnuts) and koobideh kabob (char-broiled floor meat). End with Persian ice cream kissed with saffron, rose water, cardamom, and almond.
  • Barbar Mediterranean Grill – Hit this quick informal spot for genuine Halal Lebanese and Mediterranean delicacies on the low cost. Begin with fatoush salad or a meze that includes hummus, baba ghanouj, tabbouleh and falafel; then transfer on to shish taouk (hen skewers), makanik (Lebanese beef sausage) and lamb kababs.
  • Beeezzz Doner & Kebap – Take a look at this westside meals truck, which slings high quality doner and kebap plates, wraps, and sandwiches late into the night time.
  • Bijan Persian Grill – This Hillcroft favourite provides Persian delights like tahdig, gheymeh stew, kabab barg and faloode, a Persian noodle dessert.
  • Café Caspian – Journey by means of historical past at this ornate Persian restaurant, with dishes from joojeh kabob (Cornish hen) and mahicheh (lamb shank) with sabzi polo (herbed rice).
  • Cafe Lili Lebanese Grill – The Bejjani Household has been proudly serving Houston effective Lebanese delicacies since 1991. Hit the Galleria-area spot to feast on stuffed grape leaves, fried kibbie, labneh, moujadra (lentils with rice), and kabob plates and sandwiches. Don’t overlook to save lots of room for some Lebanese espresso, baklava, and maamoul cookies.
  • Café Luxor – Decked out in luxe Egyptian décor, this Washington Ave hookah bar and restaurant is an effective time. Go to for falafel, hookah, and stomach dancing.
  • Chef on the Run Halal – It’s all about shawarma and kebabs at this fashionable halal meals truck.
  • Dandanah Cafe & Grill – This hookah bar and grill dishes out conventional choices—hawawshy (Egyptian meat pies), mombar (sausages full of spiced rice),  koshary (rice, macaroni and lentils) and ful medames (stewed fava beans) simmered in tomatoes, cumin, and lemon tahini—alongside trendy choices like brick oven “King Tut” pizzas and Nutella feteerah. Don’t miss the DJ rocking out each Friday and reside stomach dancing each Saturday.
  • Darband Shishkabob – One other Hillcroft hang-out, this informal Persian kabob home has been serving Houstonians since 1986. Get stews, kabobs, and rice alongside quite a lot of sweets.
  • Empire Turkish Grill – This elegant Memorial restaurant gives a bouquet of Turkish flavors, with entrees from lamb sis kebab and filet mignon adana to erista Turkish pasta with kremali tavuk (hen with cream), plus an $11.95 lunch particular.
  • Ephesus Mediterranean Grill – Over in Katy, Ephesus presents a mix of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Middle Japanese eats, from sis kebab and hen with cream to kunefe dessert.
  • Fadi’s Mediterranean Grill – Born and raised in Saida, Lebanon, Fadi’s chef and founder Fadi Dimassi is devoted to serving genuine Mediterranean fare to group. Hit one among the three space places to fill your plate with falafel, shawarma, kafta (Lebanese beef kabobs), kousa (stuffed zucchini), siyyadiyeh (fish and rice), zaatar bread, hummus, and fattoush salad. Fadi’s additionally rocks a banquet corridor for particular occasions.
  • Garson Restaurant – Open since 1992, Garson specializes in conventional Persian meals, from lamb shank and gheimeh bademjan (Persian-style tomato beef and eggplant stew) to chengeh kabab and mirza ghassemi (grilled eggplant appetizer).
  • Genesis Steakhouse & Wine Bar – Houston’s first and solely Glatt Kosher steakhouse is a chic affair. Along with its common menu of ribeyes, chops, fish, and Israeli dishes like falafel, tabouli, and matbucha, the eatery additionally gives particular menus for Passover, Shabbat and extra.
  • Istanbul Grill & Deli – Transport your self straight to Istanbul at this charming Rice Village hang-out, which provides dishes like mercimek (pink lentil soup) and kelle paça (beef stew), döner and köfte sandwiches and kebab, lahmacun and pide (like Turkish pizza and calzone), and baklava and fιrιn sütlaç (rice pudding).
  • Jerusalem Halal Meats – Hit this Hillcroft market to select up quite a lot of Halal meats, imported grocery gadgets and spices, baked breads, recent produce, scorching gadgets, and Middle Japanese sweets.
    Kasra Persian Grill – Tucked away on Westheimer close to South Gessner, hit this family-run joint for Persian specialties like saffron hen with zereshk polo (barberry rice), ghormeh sabzi stew with lamb shank, and filet mignon kabob barg.
  • Mary’z Mediterranean/Lebanese Delicacies – With three places, Mary’z Lebanese Delicacies is a family-owned spot that strives to deliver genuine Lebanese and Mediterranean meals to Houston. Feast on maqanik (Lebanese-style spiced beef sausage), sujok (mildly scorching do-it-yourself beef sausage flavored with garlic), kibbi (floor beef suffed with minced meat, sautéed onions, pine nuts and deep fried); labne (thick yogurt cheese garnished with olive oil), stuffed grape leaves, falafel, za’atar-spiced flatbreads, and hen shawarma platters. And tack on namoura, baklava, Lebanese espresso, and recent juices. You’ll additionally discover hookah.
  • My Pita Israeli Delicacies – This Glatt Kosher café serves up a variety of conventional Israeli favorites—assume falafel, shawarma, pargiot and shakshuka—falongside overstuffed sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts. The eatery additionally gives catering, breads, and customized muffins.
  • Nazif’s – You’ll need to do Sunday brunch at this Galleria-area Turkish hang-out; that’s once you’ll discover reside music, robust tea and occasional, and a powerful, buffet-style unfold of conventional Turkish breakfast gadgets. Lunch and dinner—providing a la carte dishes like Turkish sausage pide, adana kebap, and combined grill—are not any joke both.
  • One Fifth Mediterranean – Shepherd’s rotating restaurant idea might be specializing in Mediterranean and Middle Japanese flavors by way of July of 2019. Get Turkish hummus, muhammara scorching pepper dip, tah dig, and merguez, lamb sweetbreads, and bycatch cooked al ha’esh (on the hearth).
  • Pasha – Pasha has been serving locals Turkish and Mediterranean fare since 2004, with dishes together with conventional Turkish pink lentil soup, imam bayildi (stuffed eggplant), sigara börek (fried cheese pastry), doner and kofte kebab, alinazik (tender lamb over eggplant puree), manti (Turkish ravioli), menemen (an egg and vegetable dish), lahmacun (Turkish pizza), and kazandibi (a flan-like caramelized custard).
  • Petit Café Mediterranean Grill – Head over to this Power Hall café and begin with maqanek, do-it-yourself Lebanese-style spiced sausages sautéed with onions, tomatoes and drowned with lemon juice; or batata harra, actually “spicy potatoes.” Then, dig in to kafta and hen kabob, combined grills or falafel plates alongside fattoush or Lebanese home salad sprinkled with dried mint.
  • Ranosh Cafe – Get Middle Japanese specialties at this informal Woodlake cafe, and make sure you test it out for hookah, espresso, and tea, too.
  • Saba’s Grill & Wok – Over in Meyerland, Saba’s Grill & Wok combines Chinese language fusion with Israeli delicacies. Nosh on beef dumplings, babaganoush and hummus, kabobs, falafel and schnitzel with laffa bread, and candy and bitter hen, garlic noodles, and fried rice.
  • Sabas Restaurant – This family-owned Kosher restaurant has been feeding locals quite a lot of dishes since 2001. Visitors can take pleasure in Israeli breakfast plates loaded with eggs, feta, cucumbers, and tomatoes or hardboiled eggs, hummus, and jachnun, an Israeli pastry. The menu additionally options Israeli salads and bagel toasts, shakshuka, malawach and falafel plates, schnitzel fish, sushi, pizza and extra.
  • Sawa Restaurant & Grill – Fusing Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisines, this Bay Space eatery provides a menu that includes labneh, grape leaves, tabouli, layali libnan (Lebanese Nights dessert), and shavings of recent hen and beef together with halal choices, plus full catering providers.
  • Shawarma Cease – Get a style of the Middle East at this shawarma spot. Begin with hummus, tabbouli, and falafel earlier than shifting on to build-your-own shawarma bowls and pitas.
  • Turquoise Grill – Head to Sugar Land City Sq. to seek out Turkish specialties like sigara boregi (fried cheese and phyllo rolls), haydari (yogurt dip), sujuk (dried beef sausage) shish kebab, and mini lahmajun (flatbread pizza), in addition to different Mediterranean-inspired fare.
  • Zabak’s – This second era Middle Japanese and Mediterranean café continues its household legacy, showcasing genuine recipes from the household’s Palestinian heritage. Dine on hummus and baba ghanouj, tabbouleh and fattoush salads, kebabs and falafel, and pistachio or walnut baklava.

Grocery Shops & Bakeries

  • Abdallah’s Lebanese Restaurant and Bakery – Began as a warehouse bread-baking enterprise by brothers Elias and George Abdallah in 1976, Abdallah’s has grown into one among Houston’s most beloved Lebanese spots. Get a style of Lebanon with recent pita bread, za’atar bread, spinach pies, and desserts, from nammoura cake and rice pudding to burma pastries and maamoul cookies; and hit the mom-and-pop restaurant for labneh, baba ghannouj, kibbe balls, shish taouk, stuffed cabbage, mughrabieh (a Lebanese couscous dish) and kabob sandwiches and extra.
  • Cedar Bakery – Specializing in meals of the Mediterranean, Cedar’s provides quite a lot of manakish, or Lebanese flatbreads topped with issues like cheese, za’atar, labneh and shawarma. When you’re there, decide up some baklava and pita to-go.
  • Droubi’s Bakery & Deli – Based in 1979 as a bakery for Lebanese pita bread, Droubi’s ultimately grew into considered one of the largest Middle Japanese retail shops in the USA. In the ’80s, the firm purchased a Mediterranean import competitor, combining to convey a style of the Middle East and the Mediterranean to Houston. Half bakery, half deli, half restaurant, half catering enterprise and half grocery store, come right here to get imported cheeses, olives and oils, plus freshly ready items like lamb shank, shawarma, Lebanese-style grape leaves, tabouli salad, pastries, and freshly baked pita, in fact.
  • Phoenicia Specialty Meals – Began over 30 years in the past by Bob and Arpi Tcholakian (previously of Lebanon and of Armenian descent), this bustling worldwide market now hosts two places. Each supply recent produce, meats and seafood, cheeses and baked items and a plethora of gourmand eats, with a particular concentrate on the Mediterranean and and Levantine delicacies. Go to to seek out conventional meze together with tabbouleh, hummus, and baba ghanoush, plus issues like slow-roasted lamb shank, labneh, recent chickpeas and freshly baked pita. Transfer alongside and also you’ll discover a tapestry of recent and imported items, from recent chickpeas and historic grains to spices like za’atar, sumac, allspice, and cinnamon. In the 55,000-square foot Westheimer location, you’ll additionally discover Arpi’s Deli, a restaurant specializing in slow-cooked meats and meze.
  • Simit & Poacha – Hit this westside bakey to select up simit (consider it like a Turkish bagel), su borek (baked pastries) crammed with feta cheese or chocolate and pide (Turkish pita) topped with issues like mozzarella, soujouk sausage, and spinach.
  • Suzie’s Pastry Shoppe – Hit this Richmond bakeshop to get your fill of genuine do-it-yourself sweets, from baklava, kenefa (cheese soaked pastries), and ghraybeh (Lebanese butter cookies) to mafrooki (pistachio cream cake) and mamool pastries with dates, pistachios, walnuts, and cream.
  • Three Brothers Bakery – In 1949, brothers Sigmund, Sol and Max opened the first Three Brothers Bakery on Holman Road. Immediately, the widespread bakery has three places, every of which supply all the things from chocolate babka, rugelach, and hamantaschen to quite a lot of challah and vacation sufganiyot.

Language Courses, Schooling Facilities, Teams & Meet-Ups

  • Arabic Language Institute – Established in 2015, this language faculty was shaped with the function of educating languages to the youth of Houston and surrounding areas.
  • Arabic Faculty at the Arab American Cultural Middle – This cultural middle presents introduction, intermediate, and superior language packages from youth and adults.
  • European Faculty of Languages – Study Arabic at the European Faculty of Languages, the place the courses are designed for all adults and schooling professionals who both need to begin studying Arabic for the first time or need to keep/enhance their degree of comprehension and pronunciation.
  • Farsi Faculty of Houston – Established in 1992, the Farsi Faculty of Houston welcomes individuals of all backgrounds to take part in studying the lovely language of Farsi, providing a wide selection of courses for these with a reasonably primary Farsi background to those that have none in any respect. Courses are additionally provided for adults and youngsters who’re at entry-level in Farsi speech.
  • Hebrew Language Courses – Study Hebrew at the Chai Studying Middle of West Houston or Congregation Beth Israel, which provides two Hebrew packages for adults—Grownup B’nei Mitzvah and Grownup Hebrew.
  • Iranian Cultural Basis Faculty – The Iranian Cultural Basis-Houston presents youth curriculums and Persian language, drawing and dancing courses on Sundays, plus quite a lot of literature and cultural courses similar to Poem Night time, Shahnameh, Historical past, and Hafez Shenasi. Grownup Farsi, artwork and dance courses and personal music classes are additionally obtainable.
  • ALCC Youth Membership Houston – This group youth group is a part of the American Lebanese Cultural Middle.
  • The Challah Membership – Each Third Thursday of the month, the Bellaire Jewish Middle invitations friends to discover ways to make challah in a social setting. Join $7.
  • Houston Arab & Muslim Group – This Fb group was created to attach Arab/Muslim residents in Houston.
  • Houston Hillel – This non-profit strives to complement the lives of Jewish college students and younger professionals in order that they could enrich the Houston Jewish group and the Jewish individuals and the world.
  • Houston Persian (Farsi) Audio system and Learners – This public meetup connects locals who converse Farsi or who’re studying and need a relaxed environment to follow, in addition to these interested in the Persian tradition.
  • Jewish Federation of Higher Houston – The Jewish Federation of Larger Houston is a volunteer group that strengthens the Jewish group, from Houston to Jerusalem. Take a look at the group calendar for occasions.
  • Lebanese in Houston – This Fb group connects Lebanese group members in Houston.
  • Turks in Houston – This Fb group connects Turks dwelling in and round the Houston space.
  • Younger Jewish Professionals Houston – This group provides an opportunity to attach with different younger Jewish professionals in a welcoming, relaxed and spirited setting. Look out for occasions like First Fridays Shabbat Dinner and Cocktails, networking socials, and courses.

Different Notables

  • Arab Voices Radio Speak Present – Tune into 90.1FM (89.5FM in Galveston) to take heed to this award-winning unbiased radio speak present, which showcases particular packages and covers a variety of subjects together with the historical past of the Arab world, tradition, world occasions and extra.
  • Jewish Herald-Voice – This Jewish group newspaper has been serving the Larger Houston space and the Texas Gulf Coast since 1908.
  • Lebanon Occasions Journal – Discover this month-to-month Arabic-English journal at spots like Abdallah’s Bakery, Cedars Bakery, and Fadi’s.
  • Israeli People Dance Courses – These dance courses are open to anybody who needs a style of Israeli tradition and a laidback surroundings. The open dance periods supply instruction and evaluate of classics together with at the moment’s hottest Israeli people dances, together with couples and line dances. Drop-ins are welcome for $four/member and $6/public, with class packs out there.
  • NiaMoves – Deal with the thoughts, physique, and soul whereas studying the artwork of Egyptian stomach dancing with a category at this spirited Heights-area studio. Newbie and intermediate classes can be found.
  • BBVA Compass Stadium – Soccer followers can get their repair at this EaDo soccer stadium, residence to each the Houston Dynamo and the Houston Sprint.





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Brooke Viggiano

Brooke Viggiano is a meals and way of life author residing in Houston. When she’s not contributing to publications like 365 Issues to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she’s on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the metropolis. You possibly can comply with her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .