Phoenicia: A Tantalizing World Market

Photo of Samantha Beckett
23 November 2016

A world of wonder awaits customers at Phoenicia Specialty Foods. The market caters to a variety of ethnicities and religions with food, drinks, cookware, and other surprising goodies. Come for lunch or dinner at the restaurant, and then hop next door to enjoy the market. Anyone wanting to experience an ethnic market experience should take a trip down to the Phoenician in Houston.

Produce and meat departments | © Samantha Beckett

The Phoenician draws customers in from the moment they walk into the door of the market. Scents of heady Mediterranean spices and foods fill the market and start visitors off on their culinary journey. The Phoenician sits in a large, warehouse-styled space with departments set up to cater to different customers’ needs as well as aisles of goods to peruse. Making fresh goods for customers daily is a big draw to many Houston transplants wanting a piece of their cultural heritage. While the main focus is Mediterranean and Middle Eastern goods, the market brings in food and produce from many other countries, outside those areas, as well.

The produce section at the Phoenician is small but diverse. Offering a plethora of familiar and not-so-familiar fruits, the market brings produce from local sources as well as importing some ingredients from outside of the country. Customers can get fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, or be more adventurous and try fresh chickpeas or dates. Along the same walkway lies the meat and seafood department. The meat department is Halal friendly and caters to the Muslim community in Houston. While offering a wide selection of fresh meat and seafood, the meat department at the Phoenician also offers different types of seasoned meats featured in the Phoenician restaurant.

Pita station | © Samantha Beckett

Immediately following the meat and produce departments is the bakery and confections department. This bakery is a wonderland for anyone who enjoys sweets. There is a whole case of savory Middle Eastern pastries filled with different meats and vegetables. Another case holds Middle Eastern sweets such as the classic baklava, which comes in many flavors and with a variety of toppings. Try a baklava roll or experience some of the Middle Eastern pastries not so commonly consumed. The Phoenician follows the ‘world market’ theme by also offering a wide variety of handmade European pastries. These pastries are usually bright, colorful, and extremely sweet.

The main attraction of the bakery is the pita bread station. The pita bread is baked in the upper floors of the market and is sent hot and fresh down a conveyor belt and into the market. This hot, fresh pita bread is bagged and immediately put on the shelf for customers to buy. Made in a multitude of different styles and flavors, they are all made fresh daily. Any trip to the Phoenician would not be complete without a stop in the bakery and confections department.

Case of Middle Eastern sweets | © Samantha Beckett

Another aspect of the market is the pre-made foods and the deli. These pre-made foods include a variety of salads, skewers of seasoned meats, and, of course, the classic rotisserie chicken. The Phoenician also offers many different types of cheeses, ranging from mozzarella to halloumi. The deli offers Halal meats as well as a selection of salamis and a few other charcuterie delights. Move into the aisles, and you can find whole blocks of meats and cheeses available for sale. The Phoenician caters to restaurants as well as individuals, offering goods in large portions or in smaller portions for the individual.

Aisles upon aisles of goods really bring out the warehouse feel of the market. Product is stacked up as high as the ceiling and towers over customers as they shop. Goods include pasta, canned goods, spices, cookware, and a whole selection of fresh coffee and teas. The Phoenician also offers a selection of hookahs and hookah accessories to those who wish to experience the flavored tobacco smoked through intricately designed water pipes, often found in the Middle East.

After perusing the market, take a trip next door and try out the Pheonician’s restaurant Arpi’s Deli. The restaurant features many products and goods from the market. The restaurant offers a selection of seasoned and cooked meats that can be eaten plain or wrapped up in pita bread with veggies to become a shawarma. The restaurant also offers a large Mediterranean buffet with a wide selection of salads, appetizers, and snacks to add to your meal. Have some fresh coffee and homemade dessert, a selection of confections from the market, after the meal as well. If you are on the go and want a meal while shopping, sit down and order from the food court right in the market.

Phoenicia aisles | © Samantha Beckett

The Phoenician offers an experience for customers that is unique and exciting. From the first moment a customer steps into the market, they are assaulted with smells and sights that transport them from Texas to the exotic places that lie across the ocean. Come shop for any ethnic food needs or indulge in a bite to eat at the restaurant. Any visit to Phoenician Specialty Foods will be a new experience.

Phoenician meal at the restaurant | © Samantha Beckett

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