Some of Richardson’s other Iraqi restaurants have shut down in recent years — we still miss the kebabs at Chai Khanah — but Bilad, the original and perhaps best of them all, remains a neighborhood institution. The superb bakery got its start turning out excellent samoon bread from Iraq and trays of delightful desserts like pistachio puffs and baklava. But for nearly a decade now, Bilad has also had an excellent kitchen serving Iraqi specialties, including some of the region’s better shawarma and falafel, zhug (an acidic hot pepper sauce), fresh tabbouleh and garlicky hummus. Kebab meat may look charred on the outside, but the interior is still perfectly tender. Grab a bag of that samoon bread as you leave, or visit the small grocery next door.
Top pick: The $5.49 shawarma sandwiches, served on loaves of fresh Iraqi bread with fluffy soft interiors, are no-doubt, unanimous-vote choices for the Texas Sandwich Hall of Fame, especially if you ask that your sandwich be made spicy.
The downside: Double-check the freshness on any pre-packaged desserts. We’re not in love with the three-day-old baklava that occasionally sits on the shelf.
Fun fact: Bilad makes a point of providing food to penniless customers or people experiencing homelessness free of charge.