"Come back Thursday, I will make you eggplant kebabs," Rita said when I walked into her restaurant's new location. After 17 years at 755 Dairy-Ashford (near Memorial), Cafe Rita has moved a few miles south to 2352 S. Dairy-Ashford (near Westheimer). The new location is much bigger. I am betting there are finally enough tables for the lunch rush now. (I used to have to get my lunch to go because there was never anywhere to sit down.) Rita doesn't remember my name, but she knows I am the guy who always asks for the eggplant kebabs.
"This is the most popular kebab in Beirut," Rita's husband and restaurant co-owner George Sarikhanian told me the first time I tried them. "We don't make these all the time; you better get some while you can."
The skewers he sold me held alternating rounds of marinated eggplant and seasoned ground beef patties--the meat was cooked gloriously close to medium-rare. If you decide to go try some on Thursday, I recommend you wrap a slice of gooey eggplant in some pita bread with a juicy ground beef patty and spread it with some of Rita's mouhammara hot sauce and garlic mayo. You will be amazed.
If you've never had spicy Armenian food, you are in for a surprise. It's a lot zestier than what you get in Greek, Turkish, Persian, or Lebanese restaurants--a real treat for hot and spicy food lovers who like Middle Eastern dips, kebabs, and pita wraps.