Houston Vegan Eats: Niko Nikos

When you think Greek food in Houston you think of two places Greek Village aka Biba’s/One’s a Meal and Niko Nikos.

In pre-gan days I was a stalwart adhereant of Biba’s as it was open 24-Hours and had an awesome breakfast and pizza. These were staples of my diet in my early twenties and it shows.

I had never been to Niko Nikos until Monday night. I was missing out. It was much better than Bibas, even for an omni. Where Bibas is on the expensive side, Niko Nikos was a good value. The sandwiches and plates both were under $12 and the plates were enough to feed two people easily. They had clearly marked vegetarian options which, with a little editing, became Vegan. They also had hummus, which Bibas does not serve, amazingly. Some have sugggested that hummus isn’t actually Greek but Middle Eastern, so that may be why.

Here’s the break down:

The parking was crazy but it was a constant flow so we didn’t have to drive around the lot very long before we got a space right by the door. The seating was expansive both inside and out but there was a dearth of big tables for large groups and pushing tables together really disrupted the traffic flow.

I like the counter service. I’m not a fan of table service most of the time becasue I feel like: “I have feet why should I ahve to tip someone to get my food and refills on my beverage.” The line was somewhat long but moved very quickly and our overall wait in line was less than ten minutes. The counter person was curteous and friendly and knew the menu well. We were given a LED buzzer thingie and went off to fill our drinks and find seating for five,which is always an adventure.

The salads and hummus made a near immediate appearance and the cooked food took less than 15 minutes. Not a bad wait, but it was a Monday night so I can’t speak for REALLY busy nights.

The Hummus was a full order for almost nine bucks, so I expected a sizable portion. In reality I got a lot of crudite and pita bread and a rather paltry serving of hummus. Apprantly chickpeas are more pricey than I thought, as my hummus was more expenisve than my wife’s falafel pita and fries but was comparatively tiny. I’ll not order that again.

When my fries arrived they were a huge protion for 2.50, but they were covered with Feta cheese. I realize now, looking at the menu, that the guy ASSUMED that I wanted the Feta fries despite the fact that I ordered french fies. They were some of the best fries in the city once I had scalped the dairy off and passed it to the lovely Greek girl who was treating my wife and I to dinner.

My wife’s falafel pita was huge and I’ll defintely order that in the future. The hot sauce that came with it was great. I loved the flavor of it. I see that I can order extra falafel on the side for 95 cents a piece so that would be a great deal with a couple of extra falafel for more protein as three is a bit on the short side for my tastes. It was crammed with fresh salad veggies and came with a tahini sauce that we hope was vegan as it was tasty. It came with a mound of fries as well and I ended up eating quite a few of my wife’s fries on top of my own.

We were dining with three young ladies who are all omnivores. The Greek had Greek salad and Gyro with Greek home fries. One of the other women had fried oysters and the other had a gyro platter. Both were piled high with more food than any four people really need.

We ordered dessert to go on the way out. I’m not sure what the other ladies got as we were in a hurry to get home at that point but it was something with egg custard or some such. We had baklava since we are honey eating vegans. It was drenched in Niko Nikos honey sauce. The sauce was very runny and thin but did taste of honey. The baklava itself was very tasty if a bit chewy and despite the honey sauce’s apparant wetness it did nothing to moisten the overbaked phyllo dough. It was ok baklava. It wasn’t worth $3.25, in my opinion, but it was ok. I’d rather eat baklava at Dimassi’s where I can eat as many pieces as I have appetite for with no extra charge.

All in all Niko Nikos was pretty darn good and well worth the trip into Montrose and fiasco of parking in the crowded parking lot. The food was great and the atmosphere was “Greekish” if a bit busy and crowded. I see why this place made it onto Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

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Houston Vegan Eats, Round 3 – Dimassi’s

On Friday night we wanted to eat out. My wife wanted Fadi’s, which is an awesome choice but it’s a little far into town to any of their locations from where we live and the wife was meeting me there with our son. I was on my way home from work so we figured somewhere on the Southwest Freeway would be best, to keep it simple.
Since Fadi’s was already out there as a preference, the new Dimassi’s on 59 between West Airport and Kirkwood was a natural choice.
They took an old, short-lived attempt at a Cajun restaurant, called Gringeaux ala Pappadeux, by nearby Gringo’s and basically refurnished it.
Like most Dimassi’s location it’s NOT about how the place looks but how the food tastes. This location happens to look like it belongs in the French Quarter of New Orleans, but inside it’s generic restaurant decor with comfortable tables and lots of seating. Another plus is the large parking lot, which you won’t find at some of the other Mediterranean restaurants in town.

The buffet was attractive and well stocked. The food was all the right temperature and the falafel were so hot I nearly burned myself retrieving the tasty nuggets.

Everything was delicious. I had falafel, baba ganoush, hummus, cucumber salad, tabbouleh, rice and lentils, rice pilaf, seasoned potatoes, and lots of pitas.

I did not like the tabbouleh but it tasted very flavorful and my wife liked it a lot so that was probably just me. I also didn’t care for some kind of potato-salad like dish that was served cold. IT was ok but not my favorite and you when you have so many dishes which vie for the title of awesome there’s no reason to eat the mediocre. The pita were a little tough and not as yummy as Fadi’s, as their’s are straight out of the brick oven, but I could also eat a bunch of them without paying $.50 for each one after the first so that mitigates the fact that the were a little tough.

The baklava…fantastic. The lady fingers were also good and my son liked the jam cookies. The semolina cakes had yogurt so naturally we avoided those.

We paid less than $35 for the three of us including drinks and desserts, of course.

We’ll definitely be going back as it was nearly as good as Fadi’s and they have slightly different stuff. If you’re near a Dimassi’s you should definitely give it a try. Oh and they plenty of meat dishes and fresh-baked pizza for the Omnis in your family/friends.