rich po' boys
Ken Hoffman reviews famous Houston sandwich shop's new Mediterranean menu
It’s not easy being Houston’s No. 1, most-trusted, most-honored food critic. (For items under 10 dollars, that is.)
For example, Antone’s Famous Po’Boys recently unveiled a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern menu, featuring traditional gyros, falafel sandwiches, and more Greek and Turkish favorites. Antone’s is a Houston icon, a popular spot for New Orleans-style sandwiches since the early ’60s. So when Antone’s expands its menu to include Fasolada, Greek bean soup, that’s important and deserves coverage.
Here’s why it’s not easy for me. Disclosure: I am not a fan of Mediterranean-style food. I’ve visited Greece, Turkey, and Crete and stuck to McDonald’s and Dinty Moore heated over a candle back in my hotel. I’ve never had a gyro, no matter how you pronounce it.
But I’m a huge Cuban sandwich guy, and Antone’s Cubans are among the best in Houston. I love ’em. That’s because Antone’s has a giant honking pork roast in the kitchen, so their Cubans have big pieces of real, freshly cooked pork on top of sliced ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on a crusty loaf. Antone’s is a regular stop on my food tour for those Cuban sandwiches.
I can’t review something I don’t (won’t) try, so like Pawn Stars owner Rick Harrison, I asked, “Do you mind if I bring a buddy down to Antone’s to authenticate your Mediterranean menu?” They said sure, no problem.
I threw Mark and Adam, two of my most-trusted taste-testers, in a car and drove to Antone’s on San Felipe. They dove into falafel sandwiches, Lahmacun “Turkish Pizza,” gyros, Fasolada, and flatbread sandwiches. When they came up for air, both said everything tasted terrific.
As should be expected, since Antone’s original owner was Jalal Antone, son of Lebanese immigrants. The first store was called Antone’s Import Company and was a fast hit serving hot and cold sandwiches, gumbo, seafood platters and salads, all made from scratch. The Mediterranean menu is a tribute to Jalal Antone's roots.
Here’s my review of Antone’s new Mediterranean menu: their Cuban sandwiches are amazing, and I’m told the Mediterranean stuff is excellent, too.
For you restaurant trivia buffs, here at the Top 5 items ordered at Antone’s:
1. The Original Po’Boy
2. Tex-Mex Cheesesteak
3. Chicken Club Sandwich
4. Cuban Sandwich
Between halves of my Cuban, I asked Antone’s current bossman, Jonathan Horowitz, something I’ve long wondered about: are the Antone’s sandwiches I buy in supermarkets the same Antone’s sandwiches I get at your restaurants?
He said, “Exactly the same product. We make them every morning at the Antone’s commissary, with the same ingredients we have at the restaurants, and deliver them fresh to our stores all around Houston.”
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