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International Appetite
CATEGORY: Food/Drink
Banana Leaf Map It
9889 Bellaire Blvd

Banana Leaf serves Malaysian food, which also appeals to Houston's South African community. Malaysian dishes are in some respects the national cuisine of South Africa, as that nation was originally colonized by the Dutch, whose other iconic colony was the South Pacific islands nation. The range of flavors is nothing short of intoxicating.

Saldivia's South American Grill Map It
10234 Westheimer Rd.

Saldivia's South American Grill has you covered on the cuisine of Uruguay. We recommend trying the morcillas (blood sausage) and mollejas (grilled sweetbreads), if you're feeling ambitions.

The Original Marini's Empanada House Map It
10001 Westheimer Rd.

It's all about Argentina's street pastry, the empanada, at Marini's. One bite of the "Evita Peron," a magnificent synthesis of dulce de leche, sweet potato and walnuts, will have you crying for Argentina . . . and crawling back to this Westchase haunt. The restaurant's empanadas (in sweet and savory incarnations) may be the main draw, but branch out to the specialty churrasco sandwiches if you're looking for a more substantial meal.

Korean Noodle House Map It
1415 Murray Bay St.

The name of Korean Noodle House gives away what's to be expected on the menu. It was originally a home, and you can tell from the mismatched chairs and red Christmas lights. We hear that the jjambbong, or spicy seafood noodle soup, is addicting.

Saffron (closed) Map It
2006 Lexington St.

Upper Kirby's Saffron offers more than just legit Moroccan specialties; it also provides belly dancing performances. Don't leave without tasting the merguez, that luscious lamb sausage. Plus make a point to visit on Thursdays for the special Moroccan Barbecue, with all-you-can-eat barbecue and all-you-can-drink domestic beer and Moroccan mojitos from 5-9 p.m.

Houston's only Polish restaurant is a friendly neighborhood joint on the Northwest side, with traditional Polish favorites as pierogi, bigos, golonka, and paczki (Polish-style donuts). Don't let the foreign names scare you — there's also plenty you'll recognize, including Polish sausage, veal cutlets and roasted pork meat loaf.

For something deliciously different, head over to the Westside for Cafe Pita +. Tucked in the back corner of a nondescript strip mall, Pita+ turns out absolutely incredible Bosnian cuisine. A less explored Mediterranean cuisine with plenty of lamb, sausages, phyllo, and unleavened bread, the Bosnian fare at Cafe Pita + manages to be familiar and yet a totally new experience. The prices are incredibly reasonable, and there's no corking fee for BYOB wine, which can be purchased at the liquor store next door.

Blue Nile Map It
9400 Richmond Ave.

Ethiopian food may not be an easy sell (after all, didn't we grow up hearing abour starving kids in Africa?) but skepticism will be allayed at Blue Nile, which has been introducing Houstonians to the cuisine since 1994. Native flourishes abound on the walls and in the decor but the seating is strictly white-tablecloth. Dishes are based around the injera bread, thich and pancake-like, and made from African teff, a calcium-rich grain. Foods ordered are served individually and designed to be eaten with the injera, much like Indian dishes consumed with naan. There is a sizeable menu for vegetarians, as well as lamb, beef, poultry and fish dishes. On Thursdays, try the popular kitfo, lean beef rubbed with Ethiopian spices and butter and served with optional ayeb cheese.

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