New Houston Restaurant in Greenway/Upper Kirby is a Turkish Delight
Mean Grille, located at 3995 Richmond, recently opened in the former Thai Cottage space in the Greenway/Upper Kirby area. The colorful, family-owned restaurant serves Turkish and Mediterranean fare with a counter-service setup that’s still bright and buoyant. Owner Onur Palamut invited Houston Food Finder to try out some of the most popular items from the all-day menu. For the rest of January, he is also offering all guests who mention this article a 10% discount on their order!
Palamut, who is originally from Turkey, moved to America ten years ago. Owning a restaurant has always been a dream of his and in September of 2023 that dream became a reality when he and his business partner opened Mean Grille. As far as the name, Palamut told Houston Food Finder that “English is not my first language and we were just throwing around ideas in a brainstorming session. I said Mean Grille to my partner and he laughed. I didn’t know what it meant but he said “mean” is sometimes slang for badass. We liked it.” It also references both the kebab grill and “grillz” — the decorative teeth covers made of precious metals and diamonds made popular by Houston hip-hop artist and DJ Paul Wall (though he was not the first to sport the look). The mascot is a cute, cartoon teddy bear sporting such a grill which was created by graphic designer Miguel Avila. While the restaurant may use one mean grill, it is quite friendly and welcoming inside!
Palamut and his partner are also responsible for the design of the restaurant, stating “we were going for a happy, modern and clean aesthetic.” My initial reaction upon entering was to comment on how inviting it was inside and it’s exactly what was intended, he added that “When people come to our restaurant for the first time they will obviously notice our mostly pink interior and textured walls. This is our first business so we just used things that we like.” He also gave a shout out to their contractor, Ming Construction, who went above and beyond in building out the space.
Highlights from the menu include scratch-made falafel, hummus and loaded fries. The hummus shines with a simple mix of tahini, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and spices, and it’s blended until smooth and creamy. I could eat it every day. The falafel has the perfect amount of exterior crunch teamed with a dense-yet-fluffy, emerald-green interior — complete with small, uneven bits of chickpea for additional texture. Try it à la carte, in the falafel wrap or on the vegan plate with three falafels, hummus, crudité, pickled red onions, pita bread slices and house salad, plus your choice of sauce. It’s bright, fresh and satisfying.
The loaded fries start with a base of golden, crinkle-cut fries that are topped with marinated beef and lamb döner, pickled red onions, feta cheese crumbles and your choice of sauce. There are three signature sauces to choose from, including garlic yogurt, spicy cilantro and mild red. If you enjoy a bit of heat, the spicy cilantro is instantly craveable.
If you’ve got a hankering for grilled meats, the Governor’s Plate is the way to go, and it is great for sharing. It’s a mighty spread of beef tenderloin, chicken kebab, adana kebab and soujouk (spicy, Middle Eastern beef sausage) with grilled veggies and sauces for $35. If that’s too much for one sitting, single-protein plates are available with options including halal chicken kebab, döner, beef tenderloin or adana kebab (seasoned lamb mince kebabs) with prices ranging from $13 to $18. All of the meats are halal and produce is sourced from local farms whenever possible.
Wraps are available as a handheld option with your choice of chicken, döner or falafel with tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, pickled red onions, spring mix, lettuce, hummus and your choice of sauce. Lighter selections include the Shepherd’s Salad with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, spring mix, baby arugula, power greens, romaine lettuce, olives and feta cheese crumbles with pomegranate dressing and sumac, red lentil soup, İçli köfte (Turkish stuffed meatballs fried in a bulgur wheat paste), fried potato rolls and baba ghanoush.
Family meals for either four or six people are also offered and include kebabs served with basmati rice, house salad, pita bread slices and housemade sauces.
The dessert case is not to be ignored. It’s filled with irresistible, classic Turkish sweets such as baklava, şekerpare cookies made from semolina flour and powdered sugar topped with hazelnut and dipped in a lemony syrup, kalburabastı, which are sticky, ground walnut cakes, and tulumba, tubes of golden-brown, deep-fried dough, which resemble churros, soaked in sweet aromatic syrup. If you can’t make up your mind, a dessert sampler is available for $9.
The restaurant offers fountain drinks as well as bottled beverages imported from Turkey such as Uludağ Gazoz sodas, Beypazari mineral water in a variety of flavors and Ayran, a salty, light and frothy yogurt drink. A limited selection of beer and wine options is also available, with happy hour daily from 3 to 6 p.m. when all beer and wine is half-off. There is also Turkish coffee and tea service to cap off a satisfying meal or to enjoy alongside conversation with friends and family.
It is also one of the many restaurants participating in Eat Drink HTX 2024. The annual event runs from February 15 through February 29. During that time Mean Grille will be offering a discounted lunch and dinner combo with a portion of the sales benefiting the Houston Food Bank & DePelchin Children’s Center.
Mean Grille is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for dine-in, take-out and delivery. Parking is available onsite.
Mario-Sebastian Berry is a wine and spirits vendor who has been in the hospitality industry since 2002. Currently, he represents Blanco, Texas-based Andalusia Whiskey Co. and multiple wine labels. Somehow, he also finds time to be Houston Food Finder’s associate editor and social media manager.