Though the weather has been unseasonably warm, with rainclouds in the distance, I enjoyed my drive down Leeland that day in May. GPS set to avoid freeways, I passed several warehouse-y blocks that seemed ripe for development before breezing into a neighborhood of stately 1920s homes (hi, Paul!).
Then, just as Leeland turned into Telephone, I arrived at Bohemeo’s, a colorful, casual place to savor a lazy afternoon.
I first visited Bohemeo’s shortly after it opened — over a decade ago. At the time, according to the Houston Press, it was “the East End’s finest (and only) music, art and ¬coffee house.”
I remember a limited menu of tacos and nachos. We sat on the patio, tried everything and liked it a lot. We promised to return soon.
Well, as it often does, “soon” turned into last week. But when I walked in, owners Lupe and Sidonie Olivarez were still there with a warm welcome.
The place looks much the same as it did back in 2008. The mosaic tiled tables still charm; the “living room” setup in one corner whispers coffeehouse chic. And of course, there’s the stage. From the beginning, Bohemeo’s has hosted all sorts of local and national bands. (It’s these live music and open mic nights when Bohemeo’s is most popular.)
Outside, the patio and fountain courtyard still sport their palms, while industrial fans chase away the heat.
But oh, has the menu grown! Bohemeo’s now serves a health-conscious assortment of salads, pizzas and sandwiches, along with a fitting selection of beer and wine. Tacos and nachos are still there, too.
My feast started with some of the best hummus I’ve had in my life. Garlic and other seasonings are well balanced in the smooth, creamy dip. The generous serving of pita alongside is warm, soft and chewy. Such a simple snack, but as someone who’s known for his Christmas hummus, I must cede the crown.
Bohemeo’s has several interesting salads, such as the veggie-heavy Mean Green and the seafaring Fish Salad. But when I saw the words “Wedge Salad,” I had to have it.
And it’s huge — more like half a head of iceberg than a wedge. Cold and crisp, it was sprinkled with the usual tomato and bacon. Was the bleu cheese dressing house made? Likely not. But that’s the thing at Bohemeo’s. This is no assembly line operation. The food is prepared as one would do at home, and that love shows itself in every bite.
An Italian Hoagie was a delicious misnomer. With ham, salami, provolone, onion, green pepper, tomato and black olives, it covered all the bases, but was pressed and served warm like a Panini. I loved the crunch of the bread and the freshness of what lay inside. The side of potato salad was enough for two.
Houston’s East End has had a renaissance of late, but it arguably started at Bohemeo’s. I’m thrilled to see it still going strong. And I think you’ll have a wonderful time when you take a breather and pay them a visit.
Bohemeo’s 708 Telephone Road, Houston, Texas 77023. 713-923-4277, Bohemeos.com