Where to get your Mediterranean food fix in Houston

From Greek-style chargrilled octopus to spiced flatbreads and creamy hummus, we have it all.

Mediterranean mezze board with pita and dips.

Mediterranean mezze board with pita and dips.

VeselovaElena/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The murky Gulf Coast doesn't exactly conjure images of the Mediterranean, but being the foodie city that it is, Houston sure puts its footprint on the region's staple fare.

Greek-style chargrilled octopus? Houston has it. Street eats from lamb gyro and falafel to za'atar spiced flatbreads? Houston has it. Impossibly smooth, oh-so dreamy hummus? Houston has that, too. The Bayou City's finest Mediterranean restaurants have it all.

If you're ready to delight your taste buds, here's where to find the best Mediterranean food in Houston.

A gyro sandwich and fries from Al Quick Stop in Houston.

A gyro sandwich and fries from Al Quick Stop in Houston.

Yelp/Al Quick Stop

Al Quick Stop

Don't be fooled by its no-frills exterior. This neighborhood bodega has been a Montrose staple for more than 30 years, adding a second outpost in the Heights last year. Work your way through its stable of Mediterranean street eats: shawarma and pickles wrapped in warm pita with a slather of zippy garlic sauce; beef and lamb gyro in bowls, wraps or piled high on top of fries with a drizzle of hot sauce and tzatziki; and a silky smooth hummus that you should always add on the side.

Find it: 2002 Waugh Dr., Houston, TX 77006; 713-522-5170 or 518 W. 11th St., Suite 300, Houston, TX 77008; 713-393-7066

A few of the dishes found at Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine

A few of the dishes found at Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine

Bansari P. via Yelp

Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine

You haven't lived until you've made your way down the bounteous cafeteria-style spread at Aladdin—now with two locations, a lower Westheimer haunt (around since 2006) and its newer digs in Garden Oaks. Get in line and fill your plate with fan-favorite options including caramelized onion hummus and baba ghannouj, fresh from the oven pita, Lebanese cucumber salad, crispy fried cauliflower, saffron chicken kabob and fall-off-the-bone lamb shank. Sound like a lot? It is, and it's glorious.

Find it: 912 Westheimer St., Houston, TX 77006; 713-942-2321 or 1737 W. 34th St., Houston, TX 77018; 713-681-6257

A selection of the delicious cuisine at Arabella Mediterranean Kitchen + Grill. 

A selection of the delicious cuisine at Arabella Mediterranean Kitchen + Grill. 

Arabella Mediterranean Cuisine via Yelp

Arabella Mediterranean Kitchen + Grill 

Do yourself a favor and check out the colossal food hall at the shiny new Post Houston. And when you do, make sure to include this Mediterranean spot in your epic smorgasbord of food hall eats. Named after the historic moniker for the Jordanian city of Irbid (the founder and chef's hometown), Arabella puts out spot-on Mediterranean recipes that have been passed down for generations, often with a Third Coast twist. Fill up on chicken shawarma wrapped in tortillas, plates of lamb shank, grape leaves and spicy hummus and build-your-own rice and salad bowls. 

Find it: 401 Franklin St, Houston, Texas 77201

Craft Pita's Lebanese tacos has shredded chicken and French fries inside a flour tortilla.

Craft Pita's Lebanese tacos has shredded chicken and French fries inside a flour tortilla.

Marco Torres

Craft Pita

First-gen Lebanese American Rafael Nasr was born and raised in Houston, and he dreamed up Craft Pita as a way to blend his passion for both his culture and his city. Nasr utilizes local produce and proteins from nearby ranchers, and olive oil imported straight from the olive farms of his family's home region in Lebanon to craft dishes that stand up to that passion. Expect fiery hummus and labneh paired with za'atar-spiced manaeesh (Lebanese flatbread), fattoush salad brightened by pomegranate vinaigrette, and rotisserie bird with garlic aioli and crispy shoestring fries.

Find it: 1920 Fountain View Drive, Houston, TX 77057; 832-804-9056 or 5172 Buffalo Speedway, Suite C, Houston, TX 77005; 832-767-1725

The chicken kabob at Fadi's Mediterranean Grill.

The chicken kabob at Fadi's Mediterranean Grill.

Desaire D. via Yelp

Fadi's Mediterranean Grill

This local standby has been slinging fresh, homestyle Mediterranean and Lebanese fare for over a quarter of a century, with six locations in Houston and three in Dallas. Born and raised in Saida, Lebanon, chef-owner Fadi Dimassi impresses with tried-and-true family recipes: beef kafta and lamb kabob plates with basmati rice and muhammara, baba ghanoush and hummus with warm pita, pomegranate eggplant and coriander potatoes, and his must-try, award-winning falafel.

Find it: Various locations

A collection of "salatim," or salads in Hebrew, at Hamsa.

A collection of "salatim," or salads in Hebrew, at Hamsa.

Kirsten Gilliam

Hamsa

New-fashioned Israeli cuisine is front and center at this Rice Village stunner. That means you can dine on a vibrant mosaic of salatim (small side dishes): fiery carrot harissa, tomato and pepper matbucha, silky baba ganoush and a larger plate of the world's creamiest lamb hummus. As for the main stuff, come with friends so you don't have to choose between grilled branzino, lamb spare ribs, and skewers of beef tenderloin dripping in a za'atar and sumac spiced butter. For some real fun, stay late on Thursday nights when the restaurant turns into a party with belly dancing, shots and great vibes.

Find it: 5555 Morningside Drive, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77005; 281-612-3515

Helen Greek Food & Wine's grilled octopus.

Helen Greek Food & Wine's grilled octopus.

Nick de la Torre/For the Chronicle

Helen Greek Food & Wine

Tucked away in a gorgeous, intimate space in Rice Village, this modern Greek taverna is probably where you want to spend your next date night. Cozy up over shared plates of grilled octopus over fava puree, tender rack of lamb in ouzo sauce and "plaki" style stuffed and deboned whole fish. Have some fun discovering the world of Hellenic wines, too.

Find it: 2429 Rice Blvd., Houston, TX 77005; 832-831-7133

A plate of hummus from Mary'z Mediterranean.

A plate of hummus from Mary'z Mediterranean.

Justin A. via Yelp

Mary'z Mediterranean

Mary and Samir Fakhoury brought their north Lebanon roots to Houston some 20-odd years ago, going on to open this Mediterranean haunt back in 2005. Now with two locations, locals flock here to dip, scoop and take down plates of shawarma-topped hummus, za'atar flatbreads, pomegranate-kissed chicken liver, stewed fava beans and spiced kafta kabob. Finish with banana, pistachio and honey-drizzled Lebanese pudding for dessert.

Find it: 5825 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77057; 832-251-1955 or 4500 Washington Ave., Suite 200, Houston, TX 77007; 832) 786-5555

Mezze plates with a variety of Turkish and Mediterranean salads served as appetizers at Nazif's. 

Mezze plates with a variety of Turkish and Mediterranean salads served as appetizers at Nazif's. 

S L. via Yelp

Nazif's

You can experience Istanbul by way of Houston at this Turkish kitchen and grill, which  effortlessly fuses Mediterranean, Balkan and Middle Eastern flavors right here in Texas. Signatures include lahmacun flatbreads and pide filled with Turkish salami, sausage and cheese; coal-fired lamb chops and mixed grill platters; and sweets from baklava to kataifi pudding.

Find it: 8821 Westheimer Road, #109, Houston, TX 77063; 713-977-4476

Mini pork pita sandwich and side of chargrilled veggies from Niko Niko's in Houston.

Mini pork pita sandwich and side of chargrilled veggies from Niko Niko's in Houston.

JK S. via Yelp

Niko Niko's

Everybody loves Niko Niko's. It offers fast-paced, diner-style Greek food in a family-friendly atmosphere, and there's a beautiful dessert case beckoning to you like a siren even though you're entirely stuffed with gyro and souvlaki, spanakopita and moussaka and falafel and feta fries. We suggest you heed that siren call and order some Greek coffee and loukoumades (fried honey balls) on the way out.

Find it: 2520 Montrose, Houston, TX, 77006; 713-528-4976

A lobster dish at Ouzo Bay.

A lobster dish at Ouzo Bay.

Michael Anthony

Ouzo Bay

The powerhouse Atlas Restaurant Group (Loch Bar, Marmo) knocked it out of the park with this Mediterranean coastal concept, set in a bright and airy space in the opulent River Oaks District. Start with a glass or bottle from one of the Lone Star's largest Greek wine lists to pair with Greek spreads and pita. Try baganoush, spicy tirokafteri and bright tzatziki; add on shareables from flaming saganaki to Wagyu stuffed grape leaves; and choose from whatever fresh fish has been flown in from around the globe, like the wild-caught Aegean bronzino or royal dorade.

Find it: 4444 Westheimer Road, Suite G130, Houston, TX 77027; 832-430-6610

Various baklavas on display in the bakery at Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, in Houston. Story is about the 30th anniversary of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, which was begun by Lebanese immigrants Zohrab and Arpi Tcholakian in 1983. The business, which now includes two enormous supermarkets boasting the city's largest assortment of imported foods, began with a single shawarma.( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle )
Various baklavas on display in the bakery at Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, in Houston. Story is about the 30th anniversary of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, which was begun by Lebanese immigrants Zohrab and Arpi Tcholakian in 1983. The business, which now includes two enormous supermarkets boasting the city's largest assortment of imported foods, began with a single shawarma.( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle )Karen Warren/Staff

Phoenicia Specialty Foods

The fact that there are pita bread conveyor belts transporting fresh, piping hot, Lebanese-style bread throughout the store is pretty much all you need to know about this family-run specialty food store (with locations downtown and off Westheimer). Oh, and that you can find prepared foods like beef dolmas, cucumber salad, tabouli, hummus with Moroccan olives, slow-roasted lamb shank, shawarma wraps and Greek bronzini.

Find it: 12141 Westheimer Road Houston, TX 77077; (281) 558-8225 or 1001 Austin Street Houston, TX 77010; 832-360-2222

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