Shop and dine at one of Houston’s most beloved international grocery stores

Chris Shepherd goes behind the scenes at Phoenicia Specialty Foods in ‘Eat Like a Local’

You’ll never grocery shop hungry again, if you visit a Houston market that got its start 40 years ago.

Phoenicia Specialty Foods has ready to eat food, plus an expansive store with filled with meats, cheeses, olives, wines, spices and so much more -- including a bakery and famous conveyer belt of fresh bread.

In this episode of “Eat Like a Local with Chris Shepherd”, Shepherd learns the history of Phoenicia, sees the inner workings of its pita bread conveyer belt, while exploring other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine spots in Houston.

Watch this episode in the video player above

“Eat Like a Local with Chris Shepherd” is your guide to the best food in Houston. Watch new episodes Saturdays at 10 a.m. on KPRC 2.

Phoenicia Specialty Foods

Westheimer Market - 12141 Westheimer Road | Houston
Downtown Market - 1001 Austin St. | Houston

Phoenicia’s website touts its stores as “the international food market of your dreams.”

It got its start in Houston in 1983 when Arpi and Zohrab Tcholakian opened a single 2,500 square foot market and deli. Now, Phoenicia Specialty Foods has two markets -- a 28,000 square foot market in downtown and a 55,000 square foot facility in Westchase, across from the original deli.

The stores offer more than 20,000 products from more than fifty countries.

Fresh bread is what it may be known for best, because of an elaborate pita bread production system that ends with a conveyer belt in the store. (Watch this episode of “Eat Like a Local” to see how it works!)

Pita bread is made fresh at Phoenicia Specialty Market (KPRC/

Al Aseel

8619 Richmond Ave. | Houston

In 2012, when Al Aseel opened, they would serve just five or six chickens a day. Now, eleven years later, they average 200 chickens a day.

Ali Khatib, owner, said it’s a family business that he started quite simply because he loves cooking.

Shepherd said he had heard Al Aseel served delicious fried chicken, but it was the grilled chicken that had him hooked from his first visit. The full bird is marinated the night before it’s grilled. Shepherd said everything about it is perfect.

Marinated chicken served at Al Aseel in southwest Houston (KPRC/

All the items on the menu are made from scratch at Al Aseel, including the breads and hummus.

“The texture of it is fantastic,” said Shepherd referring to Al Aseel’s hummus. “The flavor is on point.”

Chris Shepherd shares his picks for what to order at Al Aseel (KPRC/

Suzie’s Pastry Shoppe

8619 Richmond Ave. Suite 800 | Houston

This southwest Houston dessert shop offers an impressive assortment of authentic Mediterranean and European desserts.

Whether you want to satisfy your own sweet tooth or you’re looking to bring a box of goodies to a friend or family member’s house, Shepherd says Suzie’s Pastry Shoppe is a great place to go.

They have sugar-free options too, which are sweetened with monk fruit.

A dessert box is filled at Suzie's Pastry Shoppe in southwest Houston (KPRC/

More “Eat Like a Local” picks featured in this episode

Bookmark the Eat Like a Local website, so you can find more restaurants serving up great food near you. We’re adding restaurants to the map every week.

Watch new episodes of “Eat Like a Local with Chris Shepherd” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on KPRC 2.

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About the Authors

Sports mom, amateur nature photographer, and regional Emmy award-winning television producer

Field producer by day. Cruise director by night to a busy, foodie, outdoorsy family, which includes two sports loving boys and one craft beer loving husband.

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