Longhorn Po-Boys and Falafel

2901-B Medical Arts, 495-9228

11am-11pm Mon-Sat, 11am-10pm Sun Just like the strings of pawn shops and "gentleman's clubs" that surround military bases, you'll always find sandwich shops around a college campus. It's a textbook case of niche marketing -- a nearby population needs a quick, straightforward lunch between classes. Offer students sandwiches and they will give you money. But if you also serve cross-cultural fast food, you'll develop a cult following.

Longhorn Po-Boys and Falafel, located in the Medical Arts Kinkoplex, covers both bases by being both a serviceable sandwich counter and vegetarian-friendly stealth Lebanese restaurant -- all within easy striking distance of UT. They'll make the usual sandwich suspects but they also offer exceptional house specialties for fans of Middle Eastern food. If you're unfamiliar with the specialties, learning a few new words will be more than worth the effort.

Falafel, loosely translated, is a Middle Eastern vegetarian sausage. Coarsely ground chickpeas are mixed with parsley and spices, formed into patties, then fried until golden brown. The final product resembles the love child of a hamburger and hush puppy and would satisfy the most dedicated sausage fan -- hog or no hog. They toss a few patties into fresh pita bread from Phoenicia Bakery, dress with creamy tahini sauce, add a few vegetables, and present you with a colossal Lebanese lunch taco. Longhorn makes other specialties, such as kibbeh (fried beef dumplings with cinnamon and pine nuts) and dolmas (rolled grape leaves filled with tangy rice salad), and serves them a la carte or in sandwich form. And for dessert, their pistachio baklava hits the perfect textural balance between flaky crunch and honey-sopped chewy. Order ham and cheese if you gotta, but don't say we didn't tempt you...

-- Pableaux Johnson

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