If you don't expand your horizons, your view of the world can seem awfully small. So, to, the same can be said for the repertoire of foods you eat. If you just stick with what you know - burgers, spaghetti, pizza and the like - you'll miss out on a whole world of different flavors, textures and experiences that are available. And with over 400 restaurants in the greater Woodlands area, there is a wealth of cuisines to try. In fact, if you ate out once per day, you could almost make it the whole year without having to visit any of them more than once - of course that means some days you have to be satisfied with a cupcake or frozen yogurt for one meal a few times, but you get the idea. So get out there and try something new! We did...
We met up with fellow food enthusiast and straight forward food blogger Ashli, aka Almost Veggies Houston.
Lama Mediterranean is an order at the counter restaurant, with the kitchen clearly visible though large windows beneath the oversize menu-boards. In the sunken coolers at the counter, visitors can find a wide variety of beverages both foreign and domestic, some familiar and some not so familiar, possibly even a few unheard-of drinks available. Also at the counter are fresh, soft pita bread slices and deep-fried pita slices, along with a creamy garlic sauce and a tahini sauce (made from sesame seeds) which are all complimentary. After placing our orders at the register, we selected a table near the window. Overall, the dining room was clean and bright, if not a bit loud as the lunch crowd grew creating a cacophony of voices in the high-ceilinged dining room.
I've previously admitted to having a comfort zone I hesitate to come out of, but in this particular instance, I was anxious to give something new a try. Lama Mediterranean Cafe has been getting rave reviews (a plus) and the only complaints I'd heard so far were of those that had to wait a long time when the place was really busy (actually another plus).
I chose a Chicken Shawerma sandwich. The name "Shawerma" applies to two different aspects of the sandwich. Shawerma is the method in which the meat is prepared, which is on a rotating spit and grilled for as long as a day and the sandwich itself, is served in a traditional Pita bread. The menu indicated it would come prepared with tomatoes, onions and garlic sauce, which was all fine with me. Unexpectedly, however, there was also a thick slice of a seasoned roasted potato. At first I thought it would be weird, but actually, I really liked the flavor and texture of the potato along with the chicken and fresh veggies. In fact, because the chicken was a little dry, the moisture from the potato made up for it without having to drown the sandwich in more garlic sauce. Accompanying my sandwich was coleslaw and some pickled vegetables.
I have to reiterate the vegetables were pickled. Because if you aren't aware of it, you will be taken by complete surprise (as I was). Sure, of course I expected the pickle slices to be pickled. But the tomatoes and onions? Not so much. Still, it wasn't bad at all. In fact, after the initial vinegary shock, I found I really liked the flavor, especially in the tomatoes.
I also wanted to step outside my comfort zone, but perhaps I was slightly more hesitant. I ordered the Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($5.35), described as marinated chunks of chicken breast cubes, grilled on a stick and served in Pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, garlic sauce and tahini sauce which also came with slaw and the pickled vegetables with my sandwich.
My sandwich looked as though it would be a little on the dry side but was actually not dry at all. Our food was delivered promptly oddly enough the sandwiches were wrapped in paper even though we were dining in the restaurant. Kind of makes me wonder if the sandwich had been made ahead of time and then stored awiting someone to order it. Don't get me wrong now, the sandwich had a fresh and tasty appearance so if it was made early, it wasn't that early and certainly the same day. I'm a native Texan and some of my older relatives were into pickled this and pickled that - things I generally avoided while growing up so when I sampled the pickled veggies, I didnt' know what to expect. The pickled onions were red and simply enough, I think that I don't care for onions drenched in vinegar too much. I enjoy fresh tomatoes but again, I can do without the vinegar.
The Bottom Line
After our enjoyable first experience, we certainly plan on returning for more as this Shenandoah restaurant offers a multitude of other dishes we want to give a try. Lama Mediterranean is family owned and makes many of their dishes from family recipes perfected over a 20-year history of restaurant experience. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual, making for a nice spot for lunch or dinner and breakfast service is on the horizon.
And don't fret that you won't find something on the menu for even the pickiest of eaters in your group - with everything from a Halloum Cheese sandwich (Halloumi Cheese is similar to Mozzarella) with French Fries, to a Chicken Caesar Salad for the less experimental, to the Baba ghanoush, Falafel and Kufta. Stop in and give them a try yourself. And let us know what you think in the comments below!