The first time I went to Phoenicia Specialty Foods, I was with a friend looking for bulk jordan almonds (almonds encased in sugar) for a wedding. My friend bought her almonds and left. I stuck around and browsed, because I love markets, and Phoenicia is a really cool market. Houston is not short of specialty grocery stores, but Phoenicia specializes in foods from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, so it’s always a journey of discovery.
|Candy that I've only heard about in books|
Phoenicia used to mean a trip to West Houston, a fascinating and worthwhile trip, but still a serious drive. But they have recently opened a downtown location, on the ground floor of a ritzy apartment building near Discovery Green. And since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I’d take a look.
The new one is prettier; they are definitely going for a more up market vibe. The Westheimer location isn’t ugly, it’s just basic. It is more about grocery shopping, the new location is more about eating. The deli is prominent, which is smart, since they are so close to Discovery Green. You can grab something to eat and head over to the park. There’s also a little seating area, if you want to eat on location.
|Freshly baked pita bread|
I love the bakery, because it has a conveyor belt, and I get a kick out of that. (Yes. I know. I’m twelve.) There is a good selection of international foods: jams, pickles, cookies and candies of all kinds. Don’t miss the upstairs, which has spices, oils, and wines, along with a selection of international kitchenware and for some reason inlaid chess sets and hookahs. If I was going to go shopping, I’d still make the drive out to Westheimer. The old store is bigger and the selection is better. But if you are downtown already, Phoenicia is a good place to stop for lunch and an impulse buy.
|Anybody need a Polish cheese lady?|
Of course I bought some stuff:
- Buffalo jerky - for my father’s birthday
- Zorab’s olive oil dipping mix – because it’s great
- Walnuts - because I haven’t been able to find any for months, and
- Rose petal jam – just because