Start with a meza plate of Bosnian delights featuring smoked beef and sausage, roasted red peppers, and creamy kajmak and spicy ajvar dips. Then get the mixed platter of cevapi, pljeskavica burgers and beef and chicken kebabs, served on a bed of salty fries that soak up the juices. Portions are hearty—make sure to bring a few friends.
The paint is peeling and the servers may ignore you, but never mind that—the food here far exceeds the surroundings. The hadzijski cevap, composed of grilled beef sausages in a rich tomato cream sauce over rice, is especially worth its less-than-$10 price tag.
A taste of Transylvania in Midtown? That’s just what Romanian chef-owner Johann Schuster provides. Soccer or basketball are likely to be screening at the bar, but the place otherwise keeps it formal, with waiters bringing Japanese Kobe or Oregon mushrooms to the table for guests’ appraisal. There’s no ceremony necessary for choosing the crispy roasted duck with tangy red cabbage—just order it.
As the name suggests, this restaurant is located deep within a courtyard that wouldn’t be out of place in the Czech Republic, crafted by owner and former mason Ladislav Klos. His personality imbues every surface—there’s even a youthful photo of him in the Old Country posted in the bathroom. American breakfast is served Thursdays through Saturdays, and there’s a small menu of Eastern European dishes such as schnitzel and stroganoff on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Robert and Svetlana Movsesyan’s Russian store offers a mix of imports and made-in-house delicacies. Georgian lobio, a dish of garlicky stewed beans and walnuts, will make perfect sense to refried bean fans. The bakery’s best cake, named after Svetlana herself, features layers infused with cognac, bound with rich meringue, and topped with dark Russian chocolate.
The deli as we know it is an American institution, but it descends from the Eastern-European Jewish tradition, a fact never forgotten at this Houston landmark. Yes, the mile-high pastrami on rye and oversized matzoh balls get all the attention, but worthy entrées also include Hungarian goulash and stuffed cabbage, Ukrainian-style meatballs, and beef stroganoff. For a real taste of New York–style deli splendor, try the garlicky Roumanian steak with kasha varnishkes.
Quasimodo descends from one tower, while a man drowns in the “moat” at the entrance. It’s all for decoration, and a good introduction to the gentle madness of this Pearland attraction. Liters of Teutonic bier and uncommon cocktails such as a cucumber-dill gimlet are served by waiters in lederhosen. Schnitzel and weisswurst are among the best meats on the menu, but don’t overlook the toasted rye bread with homemade Liptauer spread.
This is the only spot in Houston for bread and smalec, and the chunky lard spread is just the beginning of an immersive Polish experience. The wide menu of favorites includes bigos, the meat-spiked sauerkraut stew; goulash-filled potato pancakes; and a variety of pierogi. At the adjoining Polish Food Store, pick up E. Wedel chocolates and smoked oscypek cheese.
The Old World ambience of this 40-year-old Houston classic makes the place seem even more antique. Waiters will push the salad bar, which includes German potato salad and pickled cucumbers with caraway, along with the warm, sweet bread they bring to the table. “Loosen your lederhosen” is the directive on Wednesdays, when there’s a buffet. Friday and Saturday nights, go all out with the sampler plate—schnitzel, roasted pork, two kinds of sausage and more—which pairs perfectly with the live polka music.
On the surface, this is an average Mediterranean restaurant and shisha bar. But those who brave the scented hookah smoke will find a small menu of Russian, Kyrgyz and Kazakh specialties. Fried meat pies known as cheburek retail for under $2 and could be a meal on their own, but save room for dumplings, including beef-and-pumpkin-stuffed manty and potato-filled vareniki.