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FoodMan

[HOUSTON] Mary'z

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From last week's Digest:

Houston Chronicle's Dining Guide

Blending Middle Eastern Tradition with Ingenuity

Alison Cook reviews “Mary’z”, a Lebanese family run place that seems worthy of a try or more.

I never stopped by Mary’z before. I have seen it and drove past it, mainly because it occupies the same location that “Sammy’s” had, and I was not fan of “Sammy’s”. Not one bit. Another reason for not stopping by was because it always looked dead, now I know it’s because the parking was moved to the back and that it gets hoping on Sundays. Thank Alison.

After reading Cook’s review, I was a little mad because I did not give this place a chance. So, I headed over there for lunch with my wife and I was very pleasantly surprised. We ordered the following:

- Lebanese Cabbage rolls (if they can get those right, they will warrant at least another visit.

- Babba Ghanouj ( A dip of roasted mashed eggplant with tahini)

- Hummus (you know what that is, right?)

- A Falafel sandwich (ditto)

- Chicken shawarma plate with rice

The last four are basics, that you will find at any middle eastern restaurant, but are usually badly or at best mediocrally (is that a word?). The dips usually have way too much tahini, lemon juice (or lemon salt), or salt or all of the above. The falafel sandwich is sometimes served with the pita toasted and crispy and this is a crime. Mary’z on the other hand excels on all counts. The food is amazing, flavorful and homemade. The cabbage rolls taste almost as good as my mom’s and are way better than mine. I agree with Cook, the eggplant dip is so good that we were tempted to order another one. Even my wife who typically is not too crazy about this dip loved Mary’z version. The falafel sandwich was great, so was the juicy and flavorful chicken.

Just like Alison pointed out, the place does have a negative side. The restaurant is operated by the mom who also cooks, and her son Jimy (manager/waiter/bartender). I think they have one other waitress around. After the Chronicle’s review the place got pretty busy for lunch and we had to wait a good while for our food. All in all it was a 1.5 hour lunch.

The friendly Jimy was concerned about this and when he asked how everything was and I praised the food but mentioned the slow service, he agreed and said they were not expecting such a spike after the review. He also mentioned that almost everything is made to order from scratch and this does take some time. So, a fix for the restaurant’s service problem is in the works and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will not involve a Sysco truck :smile:.

In the meantime if you have a craving for great homemade Lebanese grub, give Mary’z a chance. It is worth it. Maybe a good idea is to order the food before hand or to pick it up instead of eating there until the slow service situation is taken care of.

Elie

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I'll have to give the place a try next time I have a long lunch, it sounds like its very good.

Elie, do you like it more than Cafe Lili?

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I'll have to give the place a try next time I have a long lunch, it sounds like its very good.

Elie, do you like it more than Cafe Lili?

Quiet honestly, I cannot answer that. I have never been to Cafe Lili and here's why. It seems like almost every non-Lebanese person who likes Lebanese food (co-workers, neighbors,...) thinks Lili is a good place to eat. On the other hand a few Lebanese friends of mine and my wife all seem to think that it is not! So, I am a little conflicted and have never tried it for myself even though I truely have been meaning to for quiet a while. I just never gotten around to it.

My favorite decent (notice I did not say "great") Lebanese joint, other than my own kitchen :smile: , used to be "Fadi's" (on Westheimer and Dunvale not the "other" one). Right now it is Mary'z, where everything I tried tasted fresh and homemade.

What do you think about Lili's? About Fadi's if you've ever been?

Elie

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Lili is ok, I never got the big deal there but its the only Lebanese place I have been too. I would rather get good med food than go to Lili usually.

I have never been to Fadi's, no reason, just never went.

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Finally made it over to Mary's for a lunch. I have to say that I was very impressed even though I only ordered some basics. I had the very good hummus and a beef shawarma that was probably the best I have had. I can't wait to go and try some other things.

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Finally made it over to Mary's for a lunch. I have to say that I was very impressed even though I only ordered some basics. I had the very good hummus and a beef shawarma that was probably the best I have had. I can't wait to go and try some other things.

Order the appetizer sampler next time around. Everything on it is excellent especially those small fried pies filled with meat or cheese.

BTW, I did make it to Lili's a while back with a co-worker of mine and I did enjoy it. The food was pretty good and the lentil soup they had on special was a good example. I also enjoyed the personal free Lebanese coffee service at the end of the meal.

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