Phoenicia Specialty Foods

In the comments section of my recent post on the closing of Cost Plus, a reader asked if I’d ever been to Phoenicia.  My reply was that it’s like a second home; a definite favorite in the sprawling Houston grocery store/supermarket scene.

Entrance to Phoenicia
Entrance to Phoenicia.

Phoenicia Specialty Foods (or, just Phoencia, for short) began its life as a small deli / market on the wide, fierce river of pavement that is Westheimer, way out here in the boonies of West Houston.  I remember stopping by there for shawarmas and pita bread during high school and relaxing on their small patio on warm days, watching the Westheimer traffic flow by.

Pastries
Bakery.

These days, the Phoenicia empire has relocated across the road to a store that is roughly the size of an airplane hangar.  Inside, the shelves on the right-hand side of the store reach all the way to the two-story tall ceiling, piled high with enormous bags of lentils and tins of eggplant and jars of curry and boxes of fruit-flavored tobacco.  The left-hand of the store beckons you with a butcher, olive bar, bakery, cheese shop, fresh produce section and tables to sit at and people watch as you idly munch on hummus and fresh pita bread.

Phoenicia
Just the beginning…

Phoenicia stocks much, much more than just Middle Eastern food these days.  They also have a brilliant selection of European and Latin American foods, especially from the Eastern European countries.  And as such, your fellow shoppers in Phoenicia resemble nothing so much as a miniature United Nations convention.  It’s a vivacious and cheerful crowd, and the different languages spoken drift throughout the store like music.

Kebobs
Meat counter.

The butcher shop inside Phoenicia stocks some of the freshest meat in town.  Very reputable opinions other than my own hold that there is no better place to buy fresh lamb, which is hard to come by in most stores.  And if you’re looking to be a huge hit at your next party, grab a tray of their baklava and bring that to your hosts.  Additionally, their wine section is stocked with wines that I’ve rarely seen in Houston, including many Eastern European and Russian wines that I’ve only encountered in one other store (the excellent Moscow Market on Dairy Ashford).

Mmm...Baklava
Baklava.

The original Phoenicia Deli is still located across the street, at Westheimer and Kirkwood, as a reminder to never forget one’s roots.  Go and grab a bite to eat there, and then trek across the road to visit the big sister.  It’s best not to visit on an empty stomach anyway.

Tobaccos
Fruit-flavored tobacco.

More photos below the cut…

Hookah Pipes
Hookahs and pipes.

Hookahs
More hookahs.

Coffee Bar
Coffee bean bar.

Teapots
Teapots.

Delicious Tea
Loose tea.

Olives, Olives, Everywhere
Olive bar.

Beer & Bongoes
Beer and bongoes.

Lamb's Head
Teeth and tongue at no extra charge.

17 responses to “Phoenicia Specialty Foods

  1. I’m so jealous! Great pictures…

  2. Oh, they have wonderful breads here. My family is angry with me if they find out that I went there, and did not bring back one of their roasted chickens with garlic sauce and flat bread. I could go on, but my daughter is demanding to be in my lap. She loves the bakery there.

  3. Whew. Thank goodness you didn’t include any pics of the sliced lamb brains. They haunt my dreams.

  4. yumm…I’m gonna have to go there sometime. The only grocery places I go to when we got to Houston is Whole Foods and Hong Kong. When I saw that last picture I almost spit my drink on my screen from laughing.

  5. It looks awesome. I have specialty store envy!

  6. @ evil chef mom: Thanks! It’s a fun store; I’m lucky to have it so nearby.

    @ frank: Oh, man. They do have awesome bread there. My favorite is the hot pita bread with melted feta on top. *drool*

    @ callie: You know that if I’d seen any sliced lamb brains, I would have totally taken a picture. 😉

    @ Foodie Cutie: Hee! I thought that would make a nice picture to wrap up the series… 😀

    @ Asthmagirl: If there’s one thing that Houston’s good for, it’s specialty stores! 🙂

  7. K: I love this place so much. If only it were on the east end.

  8. omg, this is about 6 blocks from my father’s house… must visit Dad soon!

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  10. great blog posting! love the photos.

  11. Hello:

    Nice blog. I just saw your post regarding Phoenicia Specialty Foods. I used to think like you about this store and used to visit it once a month since it is so far from me. I saw mouse there once around the check out counter and on another occasion, my husband saw a mouse around the olive section. Also, they do not follow their expiration dates, as some of their products go bad way before expiration dates.

  12. I call bullshit! But your comment amuses me, Rosy, so it remains. 😀

  13. I second the bullshit call…..I have shopped there about 148,950 times the past couple of years (yes, really!!) and have never seen anything but total cleanliness and certainly no vermin! And I have never had an issue with the freshness of their food, either. Shame on you for spreading vicious rumors, or are you attempting to take over where Marvin Zindler left off?

  14. I am amazed with your level of respect. I used to go there once or twice a month and spend a good amount of money during each trip. I am only sharing my experience and you do not have to agree.

  15. what happed in the store i listen some bad comments about inmigration and one they employes, i scare go there explain everything .

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