Monday, November 25, 2013

Shisha Express Cafe- A small, hole-in-a-wall restaurant near the Galleria

Restaurant: Shisha Express Cafe
9511 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77063
Buffet or a-la-carte: A-la-carte
Date of visit: 11/25/13

Entrance. Photo Credit: Me

Salam/hey guys! Today I will be reviewing Shisha Express Grill. My friend and I were hanging out after we had helped out in an event at the local mosque, . I had to drop him off at his house as his friend's car had broken down while coming to pick him up. So I ended up driving him back to his house. On our way, we got hungry. We needed to find a place that was very cheap. Most of the restaurants that were located on the way to his house were not suitable for our budget. Thankfully, my friend knew about this halal (zabihah) place that serves really good Mediterranean food near to his house. And it was the cheapest option available. That place turned out to be this place. So he directed me to the restaurant.

Let The Experience Begin!
Shisha Express Cafe is located right after the Shell gas station just after the Gessner Road intersection of Westheimer. Parking was very tight, as my car was nearly touching the road! There was an outdoor patio and an inside seating area. While the outdoor patio was bright, the restaurant interior was dark. There were pictures of US Presidents, and there was a TV playing CNN. The kitchen was located right opposite the tables on the side. There was gelato and traditional Mediterranean sweets available. Now one thing that put me off was people smoking hookah INSIDE the restaurant. Hookah is exactly like smoking. For the whole time, I saw people inside smoking it. Now why can't they smoke outside in the patio like Ranosh? Many people tend to think that hookah is not smoking, considering that smoking is banned inside restaurants across Houston. The reality is that THEY'RE BOTH THE SAME THING!!! It's like tobacco with actual flavors. The nicotine is still there! Inhaling the hookah smell is considered secondhand smoking. I would strongly suggest that either the smoking should be done outside, or there should be a separate hookah room, similar to the designated smoking areas that are common in many places such as airports, government buildings, and restaurants. After we went in, the waitress gave us the menu. We skimmed through the menu and within 5 minutes, we were ready to order.

Let's Eat!
Because we were on a tight budget, we decided to order one dish and share it. That dish was the mixed grill. It had a combination of chicken, kafta, and beef kababs. It came with rice, garlic sauce, and spicy sauce. Normally it comes with salad, but we decided to substitute it with extra meat. We also had baklava lady fingers for dessert. The price we paid was around $14.50 (tax included) and the waiting time was around 12 minutes and 18 seconds. 

Menu (To get a better view, click any of the pictures): 



Arayes (Mediterranean Quesadillas)


Mesquite Grilled Platters served with rice



Gelato on display

Drinks and desserts on display

The menu had the usual gyros, platters, and sandwiches. No big deal as this is common in majority of Mediterranean restaurants.

Mixed Grill

Baklava Lady Finger

The Verdict:
The food was mostly great. The kafta and beef kababs were very delicious! It had a lot of flavor and it was marinated and cooked perfectly. The rice was very good, and so was the garlic sauce. I am not a huge fan of baklava, but the lady finger was decent. The chicken, however, was a different story. It was bland. There was hardly any spice at all in it. The best way to fix it is to add more spices when marinating, or give a lemon so that we could actually make it spicy ourselves. 
The service was great though. The waiters were attentive and friendly. The owner even came and met us, because he actually knew my friend! He was very nice and calm. He even treated his employees nicely. He would take his time and explain to the employees what to do. 

Now this place is good just for eating. But that is for lunch only. At night, there is hookah smoking, and there is belly dancing. Now before some of you guys go off on me saying that I did something un-Islamic, there was no belly dancing when we visited. If there was belly dancing when we came in, then we would have walked out and eaten somewhere else. Nor do I ever plan on doing hookah. The smell of it has makes me wanna puke. I am, however, thankful that the smell of hookah does not affect the taste of the food, and it paid off as the food was delicious! So, if you wanna grab some nice lunch and want to avoid the rush either in the Galleria or at the restaurants near the offices on Westheimer, come here. But only come for dinner if you plan on doing hookah with friends.

Service: 10/10
Food: 8/10
Waiting Time: 10/10
Overall: 28/30 = 93.3% (A)
Pricing: $$ out of $$$$

Restaurant Information
Shisha Express Cafe
9511 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77063
Phone: (713) 954-9511
Website: None
Timings: Mon-Sun: 12 PM - 2 AM
Caters: Yes

Feel free to comment below!

Zain Mohammed


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