Middle Eastern gem hidden in Bellaire
Droubi’s is a bakery, grocery store and restaurant located in Southwest Houston at 7333 Hillcroft between a used car dealership and a ratty-looking strip of shops. Some look at this setting and think they must be in the wrong part of town, while others see character.
Though the decor is not much to look at, the cultural experience Droubi’s offers is what is attractive.
From the fresh-baked Middle Eastern pastries, the isles of groceries of dried spices, to the wall of hookah pipes, the culture is what decorates.
As for the food, it is never disappointing, with a menu full of roasted lamb shanks, kibbeh in yogurt sauce, roasted eggplant and turmeric rubbed potatoes — not to mention the chicken, lamb and beef shawarmas.
I have to go for the kibbeh every time I see it there. A kibbeh is a Lebanese meatball with shell of ground beef and bulgar wheat, which is then filled with seasoned lamb and pine nuts, then covered with a dill and yogurt sauce called Taziki. Stuffing meat with more meat is a practice I am happy to see thriving to this day.
If kibbeh is not your thing, there is always a falafel sandwich, a glob of chickpeas and veggie puree formed into a patty then thrown into hot oil and fried. The outside turns to golden, crunchy perfection, yet leaving the inside moist and soft. It’s usually served with tomatoes, onions and tahini, a roasted sesame seed sauce. I could become a full-on vegetarian as long as I am within walking distance of a good falafel.
The roasted lamb shank at Droubi’s is the way all lamb shanks should be cooked, requiring only a fork to peel off the strands of meat that have been simmering with a kick of cumin in their own juices.
To finish off the meal you should find your way over to the pastry display where there are racks of various kinds of cookies, baklava, and other sweets. The classic baklava is a chunky paste of pistachios or some other nuts mixed with honey and sandwiched in-between flaky and crisp filo dough — almost like a Mediterranean peanut butter sandwich.
Truly a great place to go for lunch or an early dinner and just grab something to take home and eat later.
The only shortcoming of Droubi’s is that there is no food truck selling this stuff just outside of my favorite bar so I can grab a beef shawarma or falafel for the road.