Every Monday, Gastronaut spotlights our favorite meatless menus around town.
Every day at Doshi House is technically Meatless Monday, as the menu at the Third Ward cafe is entirely vegetarian. In fact, most of the meals are vegan, including the nightly one-dish-dinners that Doshi House offers each night starting at 5 p.m., rotating with the night of the week: Tuesdays you'll find Thai red curry, Thursdays you'll Jamaican jerk with fried plantains and a cabbage salad, and on Mondays—tonight—you'll find vegan Creole-style red beans and rice.
3419 Dowling St.
One of my favorite dishes at Doshi House is the Mumbai Streets panini served every day at lunch. And while it isn't vegan, you can easily make it that way by asking owner Deepak Doshi to leave the melty Muenster cheese off (though the soft, gooey cheese is so good in the sandwich I've never managed to order a Mumbai Streets without it). The cheese isn't the star here, though: what makes the panini so good is the mix of curried potatoes, peas, and onions—thick with the scent and bright sunshine hue of turmeric—topped with slices of cucumber for crunch. On the side you'll find a handful of fresh spinach leaves and salted plaintain chips; I usually tuck the spinach into my panini and eat the plantains on the side.
Doshi House reminds me a bit of a neighborhood version of Pondicheri in its way, with an Indian fusion menu that also incorporates baked goods, fresh-squeezed juices, teas, and coffee (Doshi House's baked goods come from local vegan/gluten-free bakeries and its coffee comes from Greenway). The two restaurants are both sunny and inviting, and both even host interesting prints, photos, and more from local artists on their walls.
The biggest difference between the two, however, lies in Doshi House's unusual location: a quiet corner in the Third Ward, far from the foodie epicenter that is Upper Kirby, where Pondicheri enjoys prime real estate at the swanky West Ave. This location was important to Deepak Doshi—a Houston native, born in Alief—as he wanted to build a food community in an underserved area. His original mission when opening Doshi House was to serve nutritious, tasty food at an accessible price point (no nightly dinner is over $7) and create a neighborhood gathering space in an area that long lacked a casual urban cafe of its own, complete with free wi-fi and art shows. Over two years later, I'd say Doshi has succeeded.