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Just as “not all who wander are lost,” not all who eat at the Hobbit Café are (or need be) die-hard Tolkien fans. But those who are will find this Houston dining institution particularly charming for its collection of Lord of the Rings paraphernalia and dishes named for the trilogy’s characters.

Appetizers are not the Hobbit Café’s strongest suit, but if you’re set on a multi-course meal, go for the incongruous albeit delicious Thai fried rolls stuffed with shrimps, chives, and cream cheese or the spinach and mushroom quesadillas. Be forewarned, however, that overindulgence in starters will make tackling your oversized sandwich that much more difficult. My favorites sammies include the Dwalin, stuffed with a turmeric heavy chicken salad laced with walnuts and red grapes, and the Far Down, an egg salad mountain topped with a full cup of guacamole.

The “south of the border” section of the menu comprises Tex-Mex and Caribbean inspired entrees like chicken or vegetable enchiladas, jerk chicken wraps, and beans and rice. These offerings are satisfying and healthfully prepared, but many border on bland and better versions can be found at other establishments.

Although the Café is known as a mecca for vegetarians due to its plant-heavy/animal-lite menu, one of the restaurant’s most noteworthy dishes is all about beef to say the least. The “Balrog,” burger (burgers?) comprises two half-pound patties (that’s a full pound o’ cow) stacked with cheese, avocados, chipotle mayonnaise, and two types of jalapenos held between two wheat buns via an onion-ring skewered knife. It’s appropriately titled, “The Balrog,” type of dark gargantuan, fire-breathing demon on Middle-Earth.

Why else go to Hobbit Café if not for burgers and LOTR nostalgia? Two words: beer and brunch. In homage to its character namesake, the Cafe is committed to providing a selection of rotating craft, international, and domestic draft and bottled beers. Those as well as wines by the glass are best enjoyed in the early evening by the light of twinkling Christmas light garlands.

Brunch at the Hobbit Café is a delightful affair especially if consumed on the large sunny patio. In addition to various types of omelets (avocado, Western, broccoli and cheese), standout egg dishes include the migas and smoked salmon benedict. Even more creativity can be found in the sweet side of Hobbit Café’s brunch in the form of their pancakes, which come in flavors such as peanut butter chocolate chip and coconut (served with coconut rather than maple syrup, natch).

Think dining with Frodo and the gang a dream come true? The Hobbit Cafe is for you. Think “hobbit” is a type of nineteenth-century buggy? The Hobbit Cafe is still for you.

Hobbit Cafe
2243 Richmond
Houston, Texas 77098

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Joanna O'Leary

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