One of the many recognized dining gems of EADO, Café TH stands out from other Houston restaurants by managing to provide a menu with dishes suitable as well as appealing to diverse dietary needs, e.g., vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and gluten-free. This makes the Café one of the best places in the city for omnivores to take “picky” dining companions—or, conversely, for more selective consumers to convince their carnivorous friends to give up meat for good. And they just might, if all vegan fare were as fantastic as Café TH’s ca ri chay, cauliflower, green beans, baby carrots, and potatoes resting in a yellow curry bath and served with jasmine rice or French baguette.

During weekday lunches, a primarily white-collar queues up for the terrific bánh mì (available in 6” and 9”) sizes. Fillings, such as cold-cut or char-grilled chicken, pork meatballs, vegetables, pâté, or tofu, are all served on flaky baguettes dressed with cilantro, cucumbers, pickled carrots, jalapenos, and sunny yellow French butter. More hit-or-miss are the soups, though one notable exception is the wonderfully fragrant hu tiu do bien, a briny ginger broth crowded with chicken, crab, shrimp, pork, and noodles.

Generally charming about Café TH is the manner in which it honors its loyal customers via the inclusion of “Fan Favorite” sections of the menu. For example, in addition to the aforementioned standard bánh mì variations, you can also have your sandwich styled a la “The Heart Throb” (two eggs, two strips of bacon, double pork or chicken) or “Mattvacado” (twice the tofu, avocado but no butter). Endurance athletes and/or followers of low-carb lifestyle will appreciate another Fan Favorite, the highly popular “Ironman Jay,” which combines stir-fried vegetables and lemon-grass beef in portions small, large, and extra-large. There’s also daytime dine-in $4.99 meals that are perfect for affordable individual takeout or allow you to sample multiple dishes in a sitting. One incentive, however, not to go during daylight hours are the rotating evening (“after dark”) specials. Recent entrees have included supple, porcine banh cuon and a sumptuous chicken and potato curry.

What’s more forgettable at Café TH is the selection of appetizers, which isn’t particularly novel and consists mainly of spring rolls with varying combinations of protein, spices, and vegetables. One major exception is the banh bot chien, a dense fried rice flour pancake made with scrambled eggs, scallions, and turnips. If you have a large appetite you’re better served ordering a vermicelli or rice plate (especially any that include a fried spring roll) as a precursor to your meal or ask for double meat in your bánh mì.

If parking stresses you out, word to the wise, have someone else drive because navigating one-way streets and cramped spots can be challenging. But it’s certainly worth it for Café TH’s friendly service and fresh, delicious fare.

 

Cafe TH
2108 Pease St
Houston, TX 77003

Joanna O'Leary

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