Filli's Cafe

The shawarma jalapeno melt, pictured here along with samosas and an iced Zaphran chai tea, may have been the highlight, but everything impressed during a visit to Sugar Land's Filli's Cafe last week. (Photo by Matt deGrood)

Sad as it may be to admit, new flavors are a food reviewer’s bread and butter. Everyone loves Thai and American comfort food, but once you’ve had some of both, you start to notice the similarities before the differences.

FiLLi Café in Sugar Land delivered on those new and interesting flavors in spades.

The newish Sugar Land restaurant and tea shop is preparing to celebrate its seven-month anniversary, and offers an eclectic menu featuring everything from burgers and pizza to samosas and omelets.

First and foremost, though, the place is known for a wide variety of teas, such as its famous Zafran teas.

The business’ Sugar Land location is its first in the United States, but FiLLi first became popular in the Middle East. And one company representative told the Fort Bend Star last week that they have big plans for expansion across Houston and the rest of the state in coming months.

A social media post featuring the inside of the restaurant alongside photos of the food is what drew my attention to FiLLi. And, indeed, both the business’ interior and menu seems designed for peak social media discussion.

Walking inside the restaurant after parking in a mostly nondescript strip mall, visitors are greeted with a modern exterior alongside writing on the wall describing the business’ history and pretty interior decorations.

Visitors then approach a counter where they can place their orders before proceeding to a host of tables in a fairly large space.

Hoping to experience the full array of FiLLi’s flavors, I opted for some samosas, a shawarma jalapeno melt (on the recommendation of the person taking my order) and an iced Zafran chai.

The food and drink came out in fairly quick order on minimal trays that gave the colors and textures of the food a chance to shine.

The tea was delicious, and I might even have ordered a second if not for the fact that it was a bit on the pricey side at ($6.99).

I think I remember reading somewhere that the owners of FiLLI imagine it as the sort of place where people can come and hang out -a gathering place of sorts – and based on the size and openness of the space alone, it seems perfect for it. But visitors for the long-haul might be better-suited to order one of the basic FiLLi or herbal teas that were all more reasonably priced ($2.50).

As good as the tea was, it’s the food where FiLLi’s quality and uniqueness really shone through, however.

Any restaurant can have a good dish. But the truly good places nail the details, and that’s what really set my visit apart.

The fries that accompanied my melt were perfectly-seasoned, delivering a bit of salt and flavor to nicely-cooked fried potatoes.

And the melt was delicious, crispy in all the right places and hitting my taste buds in a fascinating pattern of new flavors. There was clearly chicken on the melt, but I spent some time trying to identify some of the other flavors (it almost looked like there was a bit of egg, but I can’t be certain?).

Samosas are one of my favorite foods in the world, but of everything I ate at FiLLi’s, they might have been the least exciting thing. This is no real insult to their quality, however, but of how exceptional everything else was. At another restaurant, perhaps the samosas would be the best thing on the menu.

FiLLi’s keeps generously late hours most days, and seems perfectly-designed to become someone’s go-to destination after a long day at work, for a family seeking a home away from home, for a young group of friends looking for something fun to do on a Saturday.

And it’s a sure bet that I’ll be one of those visitors returning again and again.

 

FiLLi’s Café

Address: 11920 State Highway 6, Suite 600, Sugar Land

Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday

Entrée prices: $9.99-$13.99

Kid-friendly: Yes

Alcohol: Yes

Healthy options: Herbal teas ($2.50-$3.50)

Star of the show: Shawarma jalapeno melt ($9.99)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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