"Vegetarian Goodness," reads one sign outside the bright white, cheerfully-landscaped building. "Latte Serenity," promises another.
Despite those positive messages and my undeniable interest, timing and convenience prevented me from stopping in at Doshi House in the dozen or more times I had passed it.
On a fallish weekday, I made a special trip to stop by for lunch. Inside I met Deepak Doshi, the proprietor of the cafe-cum-art gallery, an enthusiastic guy with an easy smile and an off-kilter haircut.
The gallery was first formed in November 2010, and after a successful 10-month test run, Doshi resolved to transform the space into an eating establishment, which opened in April of this year.
"There's not anything like this over here," Doshi says, explaining his reason for opening the business on the cusp of the Third Ward and Midtown, just down the block from Project Row Houses.
A chalkboard behind the bar lists the simple vegetarian menu, which includes a handful of sandwiches and daily soup and dinner specials made using locally-sourced ingredients.
Doshi maintained the integrity of the building, an 80-year-old structure on the corner of Holman and Dowling that has served as a lawyer's office, a liquor store, a meat market and a medical supply shop throughout the years.
Now, as a restaurant, the inside is inviting — mismatched chairs and sofas are arranged in configurations for optimal dining and lounging, colorful paintings by local artists hang on the walls. The space hosts live music on the weekends, and Doshi tells CultureMap that he's planning for blues night on Mondays this fall.
A chalkboard behind the bar lists the simple vegetarian menu, which includes a handful of sandwiches (all $6.75) and daily soup and dinner specials made using locally-sourced ingredients (including pastries from Vegan Comfort, La Unica and Ashcraft), plus affordable juices and fresh smoothies (priced at $4.65).
The India-inspired Mumbai Streets Panini was perfectly-pressed, with a rich samosa filling complemented by tamarind chutney, sweet grilled onions and a spread of hummus, served with a side of banana chips and baby spinach. A simple but flavorful coconut Thai soup and a refreshing Grn Potion (juice from kale, cucumber, apple, pear and lemon) were delicious accompaniments.
I ordered a cortado to go, and Doshi pulled the espresso (roasted by locally-based Greenway Coffee Company) with ease as he told me about growing up in Los Angeles, living in Houston and working in the corporate setting. He created Doshi House as a sort of reprieve from that life, and it's difficult to imagine him anywhere else.
Doshi House is located at 3419 Dowling Street. It is open on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m and closed on Sunday, and offers BYOB with a nominal corking fee.