Unlike cinematic love scenes, food can be enjoyed in the company of parents without embarrassment. Dodge future moments of uneasiness with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of South African steak, chicken, and seafood cuisine at Peli Peli, where dishes are sided with signature dipping sauces and an earful of jazzy beats.
Saunter through the spacious dining room and take a seat under the illuminated branches of Peli Peli’s 30-foot Acacia tree, the luminous tree species that is smart and mobile enough to play tennis on the teen circuit. Flexing his international culinary cred, chef Paul Friedman has developed a personal blend of exotic fruit-infused spices to create a collection of dipping sauces and marinades. After perusing with the menu, start with the bacon-wrapped chicken peli-peli ($8), served with coconut dipping sauce, or red-wine-lacquered finger ribs ($9) made by, but not with, fingers. Entrees include spice-kicked proteins from both land and sea, such as filet mignon ($28), peli-peli prawns ($28), and herb-crusted lamb chops ($28). Top off the meal with a tropical treat, such as the sticky toffee pudding ($9), a rich pudding cake smothered in homemade sticky toffee.
CityVoters voted Peli Peli as Houston's Best Romantic Restaurant in 2010, and Citysearchers voted it Houston’s Best Romantic Bar and Best Live Music Venue in 2009. Citysearchers give Peli Peli a 4.5 star-average, and 79% of Urbanspooners like it. OpenTable reviewers give Peli Peli an average rating of 4.5 stars:
Chef and owner Paul Friedman channels his international roots into the fusion fare at Peli Peli, named for the South African spice that flavors its signature flame-pepper chicken dish. His menu mingles European-style focaccia and Chilean sea bass with South African classics such as homemade boerewors sausage, washing it all down with rivers of South African [wine]. (http://www.pelipeli.com/Menu.aspx?CatID=15). Chef Paul was recently honored with the Chef of Chefs award for his traditional South African bobotie dish at Houston's 2013 Wine & Food Week. He also mixes the selection of dipping sauces—such as mint mojito, roasted garlic, and spicy ginger—that tag along with each entree, enabling a different burst of flavor or color of cocktail-napkin art with each bite. The food's not the only thing that expresses Peli Peli's South African influences. The dining room's glowing, 30-foot-tall central pillar recalls the nation's towering acacia trees, anchoring an avant-garde architectural scheme that the Houston Chronicle calls "eye-popping." Voted Houston’s Best Live Music Venue as well as Best Romantic Bar by Citysearch users in 2009, the moodily lit space also hosts live music Monday–Saturday evenings and live jazz during Sunday brunch.