Kunefe and Turkish Coffee at Nazif’s in Houston
By Matthew A. McIntosh
Nestled without bravado in a cozy nook at Fondren and Westheimer in Houston is a little piece of heaven in the form of Nazif’s Turkish Grill & Deli. This unassuming eatery is consistently listed in the Top Ten of every single list I was able to find for the most popular Turkish restaurants in Houston. It takes but one trip to understand why that’s the case.
The restaurant is the namesake of the owner, Nazif Farsak. Above is a painting of him on one of the walls. He has put a lot of hard work into this place. He’s also been through a trying time recently after being shot four times during a carjacking. He managed to wrest the attacker’s gun away. He has all our best wishes for a continued recovery!
Walking in you are immediately greeted with kind and ready service, and the seating choice is optional. You can sit inside with friends and family or spend a nice day at an outside table while reading a book over your Turkish brew. If you prefer to read your Kindle or browse on your phone, they also have free wireless internet access. On this beautiful day, the latter is my intent. My mouth is watering at the thought of a delicious, sweet kunefe and a strong, tasty roast in a kahve fincanı (what the small, porcelain cup is called).
The cleanliness of the establishment is immediately apparent. The tables are clean, the floor is spotless, and the walls are adorned in a manner to provide a relaxing, warm environment. I noticed that no time is wasted in clearing and cleaning tables when parties have left after their meal. The artwork on the walls is appropriate and well-done, seen below.
The waitstaff here are prompt and efficient. The waiting time for your pre-meal apéritif is practically non-existent and they are immediately ready to take your order. If you prefer, they’ll wait for you to peruse the menu and check on you frequently until you’re ready. They provide courteous service and never make you feel rushed, unlike other places I’ve been where they seem to want you to walk in with “menu memory” and be ready to go.
But this time I already knew what I wanted. My meal would be the diced lamb shish followed by the kunefe and Turkish coffee. The odor wafting through the door to my outside table tempted my tongue to sample everything in the place, but I enjoyed a walk here today and needed to get home!
The lamb shish was glorious. The rice, lettuce, red cabbage, and chopped onion made a wonderful mixture to add to every tasty bite. It was a perfect serving size for any reasonable appetite, and I left nothing on the plate. The kunefe and coffee was coming next, but there was plenty of room for it. There’s always room for that!
You can check out the menu on their website, but don’t let the lower prices fool you. This place is a five-star restaurant in every way! The prices are a great surprise and provide an amazing value for the highly-rated service and food. When I’m in the mood for Turkish food, Nazif’s is certainly my default go-to.