Quietly occupying a charming, low-slung Tudor-style building, you might envision that Hobbit Cafe is set in a shire. The expanse of the asphalt parking lot and house that is just a half-block from a busy street might quickly dissuade you from that thought. But, it takes nothing from the attraction of this friendly and comfortable vegetarian-leaning restaurant with an array of informal dishes that has been popular for a long time. As the name suggests, Hobbit Cafe has a connection to the Tolkien series, but it’s not trying to capitalize on the blockbuster Lord of the Rings movies, which it predates by quite a few years; its predecessor opened in 1972. A number of dishes, mainly the popular vegetarian sandwiches and drinks, are named after characters in the book.
A key attraction for many customers is that there are well over a dozen vegetarian dishes, more than just soups and salads, which range from Tex- Mex to sandwiches to soy and black bean burgers. Most of the other preparations strive to be healthier than is the norm, with the sandwiches and burgers served between whole wheat bread and buns, but the carnivore should visit without trepidation. There are a number of juicy and tasty burgers, fajitas, enchiladas, meat-laden sandwiches on the good-sized menu, and the tasty and fat-laden avocados can make it into many dishes. Plus, everyone seems to like smoothies, of which there are several flavors, made here with fresh fruit, honey and ice.
The kitchen is very proficient with apparently everything, regardless of the featured protein. One of the better dishes is the Wild Salmon Burger that features a hand-formed salmon patty with plentiful mixed greens and a dill-accented light cream sauce that is a welcome array of flavors. Interestingly, the standard side for the numerous sandwiches is shredded raw carrots, which adds a hard-to-miss bright orange portion to many diners’ plates. Black beans, wild rice and fresh fruit or the less heart-friendly, if possibly more enjoyable fries, chips or onion chips also available. Seating is divided between a couple rooms in the house, and there are tables on the good-sized porch. It’s a quaint and relaxed place. Service is friendly and usually quite efficient, and an inviting selection of beers and wine are offered that can make the visit even more enjoyable.
2243 Richmond (between Kirby and Greenbriar) 77098, (713) 526-5460
Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.
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