Food & Drink
Counter Culture Café offers delightful, delicious variety
Published: June 13, 2012
Whether it's because of fast food, quick-cooking 10-minute boxed dinners from the supermarket, or cutthroat TV culinary competitions, Americans are used to meals cooked or delivered quickly. Foods that take time, thought, and significant preparation are often perceived as difficult or unwieldy. That's why Counter Culture Café and Patio is making waves with its against-the-grain approach to food.
Counter Culture, located inside Gold's Gym (formerly Spectrum Athletic Club) just north of US 281 and Evans Road, is nothing if not diverse; green juices, smoothies, and sandwiches aren't all the cafe has to offer, despite the health-conscious location. And while at first glance the menu seems to lack focus — traditional Moroccan and Mediterranean food is offered alongside raw vegan entrees and desserts, salads, breakfast, and high protein and vegetarian dishes made by three chefs each with their own specialty — that variety is the beauty behind this untraditional concept and location.
"We consider our company to be an artistic endeavor, and we feel the most exciting artistic endeavors are collaborations of very talented people," said Rachel Hajji, co-owner with her husband, Executive Chef Neil Hajji (a Morocco native). "We want to be the best, so we want to work with the best to help us get there." The pair, who also own the Wheelie Gourmet food truck usually found parked at the Alamo Street Eat-Bar in Southtown, were inspired to take on Counter Culture partly by the lack of gourmet restaurants in the Stone Oak area.
The Moroccan hand-rolled thin pita bread (more like a crepe) and chicken tagine with lemon and olive shine here — authentic, fragrant, and spiced. The menu (soon to be revamped) could use more of these spice combinations and slow-marinated meats. The raw vegan food is the other standout. Each week Chef Christa Emrick dreams up different uncooked dishes free of gluten, dairy, soy, meat, and eggs. Some offerings have included zucchini spaghetti spirals with tomato sauce, dehydrated nut and flaxseed pizza crust with cashew cheese, onion bread, and macadamia nut and pomegranate cheesecake. These dishes take longer to prepare — marinating, stewing, dehydrating — but customers are reaping the delicious benefits of the labor. And no, you needn't be a member of the gym to indulge.
Counter Culture Café and Patio
21044 US Hwy 281 N
Hours: 8am-2pm and 5pm-8pm Mon-Fri; 9am-3pm Sat