Peli Peli South African Fusion Restaurant [HOUSTON]

Last weekend, we headed to Peli Peli in in Tomball’s Vintage Park off of 249. Over the past year or two I’ve seen lots of glory given to this South African Fusion restaurant that opened a second location in the Galleria over the summer. Since I get the willies trying to navigate the Galleria, we took the road of least resistance, Hwy 249 to Tomball.

This is an upscale restaurant ($15 appetizers, $40 entrees) that has received a lot of attention recently and that may set one up for disappointment. We went very early on a Saturday arriving at 5:30 since we had a gift cert and a later date. (BTW, if you go to their FB page, they periodically offer a $100 gift cert for $70 and that is what I took advantage of months ago. They don’t expire, and I believe they have one offered now online).

Anyway, it was raining so I was dropped at the door and seated at the table while I waited for DH to find a parking spot. He arrived at the table frustrated because he told the hostess he was looking for his wife and the hostess inexplicably said, “I’m sorry.” So he began the hunt to the little side room I was in. The main dining area is nicely decorated with vibrant colors and modern lighting as far as I could tell, it was actually fenced in so I couldn’t see in.

So in sum, DH’s South African Mixed Grill was large, but not to temp. The Peli Peli Tiger Prawns I ordered were peeled at the table by a double gloved waitress who explained what was on our plates while she worked. I had asked the waiter to recommend a spicy dish, since I wanted spicy and he said he doesn’t find anything spicy so, well nothing. He later returned to say his co-workers in the back think the prawns are spicy, and the peli peli sauce it comes with was. The prawn was tender and not overcooked, the sides I left alone, the green beans and brussels sprouts needed more cooking,

The South African Chicken Wing appetizer came about 3 minutes before the cool entrees. The first time our waiter came to ask if everything was perfect, I said well it tastes okay but it all came out at once gesturing at the plethora of plates, app and mains on the table. He actually laughed and sauntered off, as if it was a joke. This is a pet peeve of mine and no joke. I know, first world problems and all that. This is a food site about food and I expect more from and place like this.

The waiter returned regularly to ask if everything still tasted perfect, but never filled wine or water glasses, never removed appetizer plates or any excess plates. I’m not there to tell him his job, he was poorly trained,.At the end of the meal while the check came all the plates still sat there except for the one they removed to put in a go box.

The restaurant is very dark, and the waiters carry flashlights if that’s something you like to know (I would have). But here’s the thing, when we left the restaurant from our rather rushed meal, every seat was filled. The room we were in was so packed that it took a while to remove ourselves as waiters and patrons tried to take orders and take their seats.

So someone undoubtedly has a better opinion of Peli Peli, but we won’t return.

Tag you’re it! Who else went out last weekend?

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Thanks for taking one for the team.

Thanks for the report. Yes there has been a lot of hype/buzz about this one. I checked it out and was put off both by the prices and the distance and like you I try to avoid the Uptown area. The menu didn’t look all that interesting to me. Sounds pretty bad.

It sounds like you guys have already made your opinion and that is unfortunate. Like every other restaurant, we strive to provide the best service and will fail from time to time. Rest assured our staff will read your post and will learn from this.

But to read about broad judgments on our menu when you have not tried it makes us sad. Our menu doesnt look all that interesting? Sounds bad? We have steak, chicken and seafood in formats not available in any other restaurant in Houston. We are top ranked on every food website. Again, we are not perfect but we have made a ton of people happy in Houston with our food and service. Please try it before you make judgments.

Well if you’d like to host a group of us for a special meal so we can all write our own opinions, I would welcome the opportunity! I’ve been intrigued by your restaurant though I’ve never been.

Galleria works best for me!

Absolutely. Would love to do a tasting. Can you email me some details at Thanks for giving us an opportunity to meet you all.

Peli Peli guys are opening a new concept with Chef Paul Friedman.

From Houstonia.

I haven’t had a chance to get to Peli Peli yet, but I still want to. I know Lambsy had a less than stellar experience there but I’ve heard some good reports and as noted above - I’m intrigued.

Paul Friedman owned an operated one of my most lamented long-lost restaurants, The Great Charcoal Chicken.

Counter service maybe, but I’d ransom every one of you for just one more Jalapeno Smothered Chicken Quarter, All White with Fries and a salad.

Maybe your children too.

Now I’m depressed.

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I saw Chef Friedman on a local news segment talking about the new concept and I’m intrigued. I will visit this new location. My beef was primarily with the service, I expect nearly flawless service when spending $100 or more per person in an upscale eatery. Too often, and especially in suburbia, the staff is local youth, untrained in the niceties. You won’t see this at Brennan’s, for example, or at Mascalzone, a newer, but foreign born moderately priced eatery. Or Tony Mandola’s or DaMarco or Indika or Brenner’s or even one of my favorite places, Patrenella’s. Staff will make or break your restaurant. Hire them, and then train them. That’s all I ask.


Prom Night

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OK, now I’m going to make a special point of going there soon.

Y’all wanna join me?

Sure! A new location is opening in Katy, not sure of the timeline.