Expand Your Palate at Sokol’s Greek Deli and Café

June 1st, 2019

Owner Chris Sokol in front of his beautiful Greek mural on the wall of Sokol’s Greek Deli

By Xander Thomas

Even with the saturation of restaurants in the Clear Lake area, it can still be a difficult task to find places based around better eating, but there are still a few that have your best interest in mind.

“I go hand pick my own tomatoes, onions, lettuce, all that stuff, that way you don’t get whatever stuff any other restaurants get,” said Sokol’s Greek Deli and Café owner, Chris Sokol. “It is a lot more time consuming, but we’re kind of known for the healthier salads and stuff like that.”

The Greek deli has been in its current location at 2410 Bay Area Blvd. for about six years, but was renamed Sokol’s about five years ago when Chris took over ownership. While he did use a lot of the previous owner’s recipes and ideas, he also took from what he learned in his youth.

“Mostly family recipes, my own recipes, I’m a big foodie so I like to integrate a lot of weird, different specials.”

He says that a lot of his specials were so well loved, and so requested, that they made it onto the regular menu. He learned a lot about how to cook because when he was growing up, his parents would let him and his sister eat whatever they wanted, but they had to cook it themselves; there was no going to grab fast food.

Chris likes opening up peoples’ minds to different foods and helping expand their palates, and that in this area, most have just not been privileged enough to have certain things prepared properly.

“Around here a lot of people tend to say that lamb is disgusting or nasty cause they haven’t had it cooked right,” he said confidently. “Usually they’ll say wow this is way better than beef.”

Even if you think you are not a fan of lamb, the slow-cooked lamb ribs are a must when visiting his restaurant.

Chris says that because they use extra virgin olive oil for just about everything, he imports an entire ship load, around 6,000 lbs once a year. Not only is it just a major staple of Greek cuisine, though, it is also better for you than more other types of oils typically used to cook with.

“We make our own salad dressing, which we sell a lot of, and consists of just extra virgin olive oil and four different vinegars and there’s absolutely zero sugar or additives to it,” he said.

This isn’t the only thing that makes his dishes healthier than most other places in the area.

Along with using a better oil, Chris prefers better ingredients for almost all of his dishes, including a well-loved sauce in the native foods, the tzatziki sauce. While many places will use sour cream, he prefers low-fat Greek yogurt for lighter guilt free eating with just as much flavor.

“The trend nowadays everyone wants the organic or non-GMO stuff like that and a lot of Greek food just happens to fall in that line.”

Chris and his sister grew up mostly in the British school system, and have lived in Indonesia and Malaysia, and around high school, landed in Texas for most of their adult lives. Chris just happened to choose our Clear Lake area to offer us some of his authentic cuisine.

He is even an admirer of the space programs and the astronauts, and has adorned the place in various NASA items.

“I have a lot of memorabilia from collecting it as I was younger, and astronauts come by here and give signed stuff for me,” he said, “It was really cool to have a restaurant right on Space Center and Bay Area.”

Sloppy Nick’s Brooklyn Deli

May 2nd, 2019

Brooklyn-Style Spirit in the Heart of League City

By Xander Thomas

Generous portions and a high standard of delicious food, including vegetarian and keto options, are just a few things that Sloppy Nick’s Brooklyn style deli pride themselves on.
New owner, Giorgio Floridia, stresses not only the quality and portions that his sandwich shop offers, but also the cleanliness that they like to maintain.

“We really emphasize in quality and keeping the place clean,” said Giorgio, “It’s important for people to know that this is a really clean environment.”

Giorgio, along with his wife Antonella, bought the restaurant in January from his cousin, Luigi, because they could be present more often in the building and help manage it more closely.

They currently offer many between bread classics, such as an Italian sandwich, a Monte Cristo, and big juicy burgers. But what does Giorgio recommend?
“Well, the best is the Reuben!” he said “And we have great hamburgers.”

He says that these, as well as the hot dogs, one of which is wrapped in bacon and deep fried (the Sloppy Pig), and the Cubano, are all big favorites. They get praise on more than just their main courses on the menu, too.

“People say we have the best garlic Parmesan fries,” he said.

Though they are discussing a few additions to the menu to be able to better cater to customer desires, Giorgio says that they won’t be making any major changes yet, because they already have good feedback about almost everything that they offer, but also “we won’t lose the nature of the Brooklyn Deli,” as he says.

So don’t get too worried, all of the favorite sandwiches and salads will still be offered. So what are the adjustments they are thinking of making?

“We are thinking about doing some brunch,” Giorgio said, “Once a month brunch, and see how people respond.”

Many people have been asking Giorgio about delivery, so they might offer this in the near future. But, he stresses, these are all things that they are trying to do for their guests at the moment, they aren’t there, yet.

Some of the little additions they have gotten a nice response on, are the antipasto board that they now offer, where guests can pick a few meats and/or cheeses, and that guests can relax with their meal and share a bottle or glass of wine or sip on a beer.

That isn’t evem the best part of what they will roll out since taking over this restaurant.

“We have this showcase that is going to be completely dessert,” he said, “We’re going to make in-house cakes, desserts, biscotti and Italian cookies Everything is going to be freshly made.”

Keeping up a restaurant is not all that keeps Giorgio and Antonella busy though. He says that they have two children, Giuseppe and Francesca, who were both born in Italy and have gained dual citizenship. He says that he and his wife are both very appreciative of the support from the community to his family.

“I want to thank the community for the great response they have given to me and my kids,” he said, “obviously I want to thank my cousin Luigi and his wife Josephine for the opportunity to own a great place.”

Masa Sushi Stands Strong for 13 Years

December 1st, 2018

By Xander Thomas

Within the last couple of years, sushi has grown immensely in popularity, it’s gone from having to make a drive out of your way for it, to being able to head down to your local grocery store if you just can’t live without it for the moment. Masa Sushi is considered a front runner in the market for the area.

“Sushi restaurants and Japanese restaurants in general didn’t have a large presence in the area in 2005 when this was opened” said Jason Ames, Masa Sushi general manager “Masa Sushi has stood the test of time, and we’re still the premiere restaurant in SE Houston area”

Owner Michael Zhou opened the first restaurant on El Dorado Blvd. in October 2005, and they just celebrated their 13-year anniversary on Thursday the 18th. So, what makes people choose Masa when there are more and more restaurants to grab the same grub popping up around town?

“As far as ambiance, décor, staff, portion sizes, pricing, originality of our menu, I think that takes the cake as far as our competition is concerned in the area”

There are three locations currently; the original store located in Webster, the second one is on 646 in Dickinson, and the one most recently opened is in the middle of Friendswood. Each restaurant has a unique floorplan and different luxuries to offer the guests.

“Masa 2, for example, the Dickinson location, has a loft, with couches and a lounge upstairs” Jason said, “the third location in Friendswood has a private sushi bar that customers can purchase so to speak, and Michael, the owner of the establishment, of all the restaurants, will actually prepare a meal for them.”

While the nice layout and these unique offerings are nice, the food is really what keeps anyone coming back into any eatery. Jason immediately came up with a list of dishes that would be a good start for anyone who has never eaten at any of the restaurants.

“Costa Rica beef, Costa Rica black pepper tuna, black pepper tuna sashimi, combination Costa Rica,” he said.

He says that when available, the menu features fish specials including blue fin tuna and the fatty belly of the same fish, called toro, and sometimes uni (sea urchin). He says the best part is where they get their blue fin from.

“The owner has a cousin that owns a fishing outfit in Hawaii and on occasion we will get fresh blue fin which is caught in Hawaii and packed with dry ice and expressed shipped to us” Jason said “Which puts us a leg up on other competition in the area given that we have that source.”

There are many places to get your sushi fix around the Clear Lake area, and more popping up every day, but there is a reason Masa has lasted 13 years in the same spot, and has since grown to have three locations, each of which brings people in the door. Jason says that Michael really has it figured out, where the market is concerned.

“We’ve stood the test of time,” he said “we’re still doing well, still making money, still get good crowds, still get good customers and happy employees.”