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Posted January 12th 2009, 11:58am
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It sometimes seems as if there are no more food discoveries to be made in Chicago. The truth is, while it may be harder these days— though far from impossible— to find unknown places in Chicago, there are all kinds of unexplored suburbs around the city, especially in less-traveled-by-internet-users areas like the south suburbs. So don't think it improbable if I say that as far as I am concerned, the best middle eastern food in Chicago is in a suburb that's been largely overlooked (with one exception) until now— or that at least half the times I've stopped for food there, I've had middle eastern food that for brightness of flavor, freshness of preparation, and the hospitality with which it was served handily surpassed almost any middle-eastern meal I've ever had within the city. After repeated middling experiences at what I'd long considered the best of them in the city— Salam— and adjusting my expectations for middle-eastern downward, the food in and around Bridgeview has given me new hope for the existence of an authentic, lively example of this cuisine in Chicago. I chronicled these explorations and discoveries in my Time Out "Taste Quest" last week; this will offer some notes and further explication of that piece, which I would recommend as the primary, easily referenced primer for the explorer.

I had vaguely known for some time that there were middle eastern restaurants down in this area (which, to help set the scene, is located straight south of the city on Harlem avenue in the 80s and 90s, mostly; or in foodie terms, it's about a mile southwest of Chuck's). In fact Salam even had an outpost here at one time. The Arab community here— mainly Palestinian— originated in Chicago's oldest middle eastern area, which was in the South Loop, and for many years they were the shopkeepers for the south side black community, both necessary and resented by the local population (a la Korean bodega owners in black neighborhoods today). The community moved over time to the area around 63rd and Pulaski, and there are still some remnants of it there; I took part in an event during the time between the abandonment of Chowhound and the launch of LTHForum in which several of us ate our way up and down 63rd, checking out the restaurants and shops that existed then. However, when the best known to us of these, Steve's Shish Kabob, closed up around 2006 (eventually reopening somewhat to the southeast of Bridgeview), the whole south side Arab community kind of fell off the local foodie radar.

To get back to its history rather than mine, the community had started looking for a place to build a mosque as early as the 1950s, and a Bridgeview mosque was built in the 1970s. The Bridgeview mosque has inspired controversy which is best understood by perusing the Chicago Tribune's series of articles on it from a few years ago, but whatever may be happening inside it, the commercial activity around it remains warmly welcoming to the outsider, if to judge by appearances, rarely seeing many from the Irish, Poles and Lithuanians who also live in the area.

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The first place I visited, a bit to the south of the main area, was Al-Basha in Palos Heights, which seems to have been around for a number of years, to judge by both the slightly worn decor and the very relaxed air with which regulars were being served. First impressions were not promising— and it took long enough to get our order taken that they had a long time to sink in— but all doubts were swept away once food arrived. Everything— falafel, kifta, the bowl of complimentary pickles— just sparkled a little brighter than any I'd had locally for some time. Tastebuds that had been lulled into slumber woke up, ready for duty. The food was as jaunty as the chef in the window:

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Al Basha
7216 W. College Rd.
Palos Heights
708-671-1440

A month or so later my wife and I were in that area again and I suggested we just pick and try another random unknown spot. She's the one who found Albawadi Mediterranean Grill in a strip mall parking lot on 87th. If I had one knock against Al-Basha— besides the fact that smoking is still allowed in restaurants in Palos Heights, shock, horror!— it would be that the menu seemed to offer only the expected standards of middle eastern cuisine. Albawadi proved not only to be at least Al-Basha's equal in flavor but to show more ambition with an extensive menu that includes everything from meat to seafood, and begins with a relish tray centered around a wonderful garlicky eggplant dip (something like the Turkish imam biyaldi). The grilled meats were outstanding, perfectly done, while the decor led to a rather amusing moment:

Al Bawadi is located in a former fast food building, which they are in the process of expanding so that they can have a nonsmoking original building and a separate hookah room. The building looked vaguely Alamo-like, but I couldn’t quite place it, so after our meal I asked our waiter if it had been a Mexican restaurant. He clearly thought I was asking if the meal we had eaten was Mexican food, and, eyes bulging in disbelief and dismay, carefully explained to the astonishingly stupid gringo (who somehow knew baba ghanoush and falafel by name, but apparently believed them to be salsa and chips), that the restaurant was Jordanian-Palestinian. Eventually I got out of him that the building had once been an Arby’s, but I’m not sure I ever convinced him that I hadn’t mistaken his place for Senor Sombrero’s.

Albawadi Grill
7216 W 87th Street
Bridgeview, IL 60455
708-599-1999

At this point, 2 for 2 on random picks having turned out to be pretty damn wonderful, I decided I had a mission to try every middle eastern place down here. As it turned out, Albawadi turned out to be the best by a comfortable margin, and indeed I would anoint it the best middle eastern restaurant in Chicagoland— and thus the one to visit if you feel inclined to make a trip down there and check the area out. And since the menus tend to be fairly similar from place to place, that's not a bad strategy. All the same, there are several other worthy places worth noting, and without duplicating the Time Out article (which extends to groceries and sweet shops), here are a few more restaurants which warrant attention:

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The Nile
This is a second outpost of a restaurant that still exists on the 63rd street strip (the similar-named place in Hyde Park may have been related once as well; or "The Nile" for a middle-eastern place may be like "Great Wall" for Chinese restaurants). The cafeteria-like atmosphere is nothing to get excited about, but the bustle behind the counter suggests that they're doing more than lazily serving up falafel— mensef was the special one day I came in here. (The specials board is in Arabic, so you have to ask.) I didn't have the mensef, I wanted to just try the regular menu (and being on deadline, I had another lunch ahead of me that day, so I didn't want to order big), but the shish taouk was grilled spot-on perfect and the falafel were bright and flavorful. It'd be worth checking out again.

The Nile Restaurant
7333 W 87th St
Bridgeview, IL 60455
(708) 237-0767

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Baladi Restaurant
This was one I found by searching the internet, as it'd be easy to miss it on a side street off Harlem. (I don't have much use for Yelp generally, but it sometimes at least alerts you to the existence of places that locals have commented on that otherwise have gone unnoticed by the internet.) The first time I went I had an absolutely fantastic grilled chicken off the specials board (again, in Arabic only), perfectly grilled (do we detect a theme?) and accompanied by a kind of red pepper sauce. I had planned on a second lunch that day as well but the idea of not finishing that chicken while it was warm and crispy was downright criminal. Baba ghanoush— not that I needed anything like that with this chicken— also impressed me as smoky and delectable.

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I returned about a week later with Gastro Gnome, who had agreed to accompany me to visit some of the groceries and markets and help me understand where the points of distinction were so I could include a few of those in the Time Out piece. We started with lunch at Baladi, ordering off the regular menu, and... it was one of those times when the second visit completely fails to show your guest what had wowed you the first time. Everything (shawerma, shish taouk, etc.) was okay, but nothing sparkled. So I guess stick to the specials at Baladi; that chicken really was great. I'm not imagining it.

Baladi Restaurant
7209 W 84th St
Bridgeview, IL 60455
708-233-1025

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Lebanese Cuisine (menu says Lebanese Nights)
This is the only Bridgeview restaurant I tried that didn't make the Time Out piece at all. (Al-Basha in Palos Heights got cut for being too far from the others.) The location is actually where Salam's outpost used to be, and it had been something else in between, too (as my take-out bag indicated). I ordered a Lebanese shawerma sandwich (shawerma inside a thin wrap with pickles and so on) and a side of foul, beans. Running the place (seemingly singlehanded) was a sort of pepperpot lady in a full hijab. She couldn't have been more warm or welcoming, and I was ready to love this place... but the food just didn't do it at all. The shawerma was kind of mealy and tough, and the foul, despite giving off waves of garlic, was flavorless in that way that only bean dishes can be. Too bad.

Lebanese Nights
9050 S Harlem Ave
Bridgeview, IL 60455
(708) 430-4377

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Village Pita & Bakery
This small shop would have been easy to miss in the same strip mall as Albawadi, but I'm glad I didn't. They sell a variety of baked goods stuffed or topped with things like za'atar (a green spice of herbs and sesame) or mohamara (a spicy red pepper topping), dirt cheap and, if not mindblowing, totally easy to like. Not surprisingly, it was the one place where I saw non-Arab customers— the Irish kid delivering Pepsi chimed in to urge me to try the potato filled one. The owner (you can see his picture at Time Out's site) clearly takes serious pride in his wares, as he was very insistent, almost worriedly so, that I not under any circumstances microwave the ones I took away (hey, I'd already had two lunches), but warm them on a cookie sheet in the oven. I did, they made a great dinner that night.

Village Pita & Bakery
7378 W 87th St
Bridgeview, IL 60455
(708) 237-0020

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Nablus Sweets
I tend to think of things like baklava in terms of David Mamet's line that there's no difference between good flan and bad flan, so I included a couple of sweets shops in the piece, but hell if I have any way to tell which is better than the other. This place stood out for one offering I've never seen anywhere else— knafeh, a dish made of warmed white Nablus cheese, topped with orange shredded wheat (once saffron-colored, I imagine), ground pistachios and sweet syrup. I could only get through half a piece, it was so rich and sweet, but I was assured on the weekends, they line up for it.

Nablus Sweets
8320 S. Harlem
Bridegview, IL
(708) 529-3911
Last edited by Mike G on January 12th 2009, 7:16pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#2
Posted January 12th 2009, 1:33pm
Mellonhubby is a big fan of the knafeh - there really isn't anyplace in Chicago that does it well: we've had it at the Middle Eastern sweets shop on Kedzie (I don't remember the name but it's in the same mini-mall as Kang Nam and the old Clark Market) and Pita Inn up in Skokie. It's not my favorite, though we did have some really good knafeh when we were in the Middle East last year.

But I think he'll be happy that there's the possibilty of getting good knafeh somewhere else in Chicago-land. Thanks for the tip.
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#3
Posted January 12th 2009, 4:30pm
Nice post, Mike. It looks like a few new options on the south side have just presented themselves. I used to have a client in the immediate area, but they moved away just before Steve's opened right down the street from their former location. I'll have to get back down there soon!
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#4
Posted January 12th 2009, 4:55pm
mellonhead wrote:Mellonhubby is a big fan of the knafeh - there really isn't anyplace in Chicago that does it well: we've had it at the Middle Eastern sweets shop on Kedzie (I don't remember the name but it's in the same mini-mall as Kang Nam and the old Clark Market) and Pita Inn up in Skokie.

Try Nazareth Sweets (next to Salam).
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#5
Posted January 13th 2009, 10:30am
I live the next town over, and Bridgeview for years has been my go to spot for Middle Eastern I don't really have a favorite place, I tend to bounce from spot to spot. There is a new place on 87th street in the lot where Tony's Supermarket is, that's really good. For a long time they didn't have a sign up in English and I'm not sure they do now actually.

The Nile used to be a hot dog place years ago I don't get there that often but their specials are usually really good. One of the counter guys once said "they are like what my mom would make at home".

I'm not a fan of Lebanese Nights, or whatever name they're using on the place now. The staff is really nice but the meat there never seems to manage to reach the tender point and it's a big turn off for me when I have to saw my way through my meal.


Village Pita and Bakery, excellent place to go. I've never had anything bad there, and the owner suggests different things to you based on what you tell him you like and they're super nice.

I'm really glad to see this area getting more coverage I think it's very deserving.
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#6
Posted January 13th 2009, 10:49am
There is a new place on 87th street in the lot where Tony's Supermarket is, that's really good. For a long time they didn't have a sign up in English and I'm not sure they do now actually.


Yeah, that's Al-Bawadi (or Albawadi; there seems to be no consistency in using hyphens or not). Now they even have a website:
http://www.albawadigrill.com/

I like that the website calls them "one of the top 10 middle eastern restaurants in Bridgeview," since I'm pretty sure there aren't even 10.

I just found this writeup too, from a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.examiner.com/x-1805-Chicago- ... Restaurant
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#7
Posted January 13th 2009, 11:23am
Mike G wrote:I like that the website calls them "one of the top 10 middle eastern restaurants in Bridgeview," since I'm pretty sure there aren't even 10.


At least no one can dispute their facts. :wink:
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#8
Posted January 13th 2009, 11:54am
smoking is still allowed in restaurants in Palos Heights, shock, horror!


Maybe it is allowed, but it is certainly not legal.
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#9
Posted January 13th 2009, 7:43pm
Mike G wrote:
Yeah, that's Al-Bawadi (or Albawadi; there seems to be no consistency in using hyphens or not). Now they even have a website:
http://www.albawadigrill.com/

I like that the website calls them "one of the top 10 middle eastern restaurants in Bridgeview," since I'm pretty sure there aren't even 10.

I just found this writeup too, from a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.examiner.com/x-1805-Chicago- ... Restaurant


Wow a website. Funny enough the building that they are in used to house a Taco Bell. Then a florist bought it and pulled the kitchen out. Then the florist went out of business, they put a restaurant back in, and last time I was by were in the process of adding an addition. I think I need to make a trip over there on the weekend again all this talk is making me hungry!
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#10
Posted January 13th 2009, 9:26pm
Mike G wrote:[Image


I got a chance to try the knafeh at Nazareth Sweets today. I had never had this before, but thanks to this thread, I gave it a try. It was very good, and the one pictured above somehow looks even richer than Nazareth's version. I'm hoping to get the time to head south to try Nablus bakery and a couple of the other spots Mike mentioned next week.
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#11
Posted January 16th 2009, 6:59pm
stevez wrote:I got a chance to try the knafeh at Nazareth Sweets today. I had never had this before, but thanks to this thread, I gave it a try. It was very good, and the one pictured above somehow looks even richer than Nazareth's version. I'm hoping to get the time to head south to try Nablus bakery and a couple of the other spots Mike mentioned next week.


Well, you might not have tried it before, but you *had* heard of it before :-)

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1747&hilit=kinafa

I like Kinafa plenty - Pita Inn is the usual easy spot. Its better at Nazareth, and maybe even better at Jaafer Sweets on Kedzie. A friend is a big kinafa-fan in general.. he's now in El Paso, when he visited last time he took a tray of kinafa back with him from Jaafer.

If Nablus is better, it oughta be very good -t hanks for the rec. Ive long heard that Bridgeview has the best middle-eastern food in Chicagoland, but never really knew of the individual spots (other than Steve's, the Nile etc... BTW, the owner of the Nile also has a place in West Lafayette Indiana!). Thus appreciate the research! (Now someone needs to do similar research on Indian and/or Korean food in the north-west burbs :-)

c8w
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#12
Posted January 16th 2009, 8:30pm
I'm not going to say Nablus' is better. I cited it as a novelty because I didn't see it anywhere else down there, but the fact is, I've always only paid passing attention to any middle eastern desserts, because they're not my thing. So I'm not surprised knafeh/kinafa exists elsewhere, and I just never noticed it. (Speaking of other names for it, the woman at Nablus actually called it "nama," but I went with knafeh because it seemed to be the more common name.)
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#13
Posted January 17th 2009, 1:58pm
I've been to Lebanese Nights a few times. Shawerma is decent. Falafel and tabouleh (sp) are much better.

Hungry Hound's segment on the place on ABC7:

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?sectio ... id=4876279
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#14
Posted January 19th 2009, 9:10am
Inspired by Mike G's explorations, following a very nice lunch at Grand Duke's in Summit yesterday, Mr/Mrs Panther in the Den, husband, and myself did a little exploring in this area. After a brief stop at Racine Bakery (in a time crunch as they close at 2pm on Sundays,) we headed down to 87th Street. We tried Village Pita and Bakery first, but it appeared they had just closed for the day. There was someone inside mopping, but door was locked. I noticed some people coming out of a market in the strip behind Village's so we headed there - Rasheem (sp?) market. It smelled fantastic in this place! A lovely mixture of fresh ground coffee, cardamom, and sumac... Panther procured the deal of the day by purchasing a 1/2# of fresh roasted coffee for $3. I found some pickled hot peppers that looked tasty and some cheese I'd never seen before.

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When the weather warms up a bit, I think the cheese will make a nice addition to a light meal of pita, hummus, and olives, instead of our usual feta.

From there, we traveled accross the street to Al-Amal Grocery and Bakery. They had some interesting looking bulk snacks, nuts, dried fruits in the front of the shop. It was fun perusing the isles, but I didn't make a purchase there. We did wander down to Albasha Sweets. I'm not usually a huge fan of this style of pastry, but I'm really glad we made a purchase.

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The pastries on top have a cheese filling, the bottoms ones have custard. We sampled them late last night and both LOVED the cheese version. It was far less sweet than we expected (in a good way.) Had it not been so late, we agreed it would be wonderful with a strong cup of coffee or an espresso. We were less enamoured with the custard version - it was just OK.

This trip made for a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon exploring a part of the city that was new to us. "Thanks" to Mike G for the inspiration and info, Cogito for the Racine Bakery tip (got my Mushroom Koldunai and some Sunflower Bread too.) "Thanks" as well to the Panthers for coming along and providing such pleasant company! -Lynn (&Jonathan)
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#15
Posted January 21st 2009, 9:00pm
I randomly ordered knafeh from Sahara Kabob, formerly Big Buns 'n Pita, about a week ago. It was part of a delivery order that also included some of their amazing falafel and rice, as well as a super fresh beef kabob. I asked them what desserts they had, and it was one of four(the others being baklava, Eli's cheesecake, and rice pudding). They spelled it kenafa, and it had shredded, bright pink, hay-like strands on top. I enjoyed it, and thought the subtle salt and tang of the cheese cut the sweetness of the syrup well. The small serving was just enough to finish off a somewhat healthy meal.

A tip: they have a broad delivery range(as far south as Irving Park) and I have asked twice and been told that no order is too small to deliver.

Sahara Kabob(Big Buns n Pita)
6649 north Clark street
Chicago, IL
773-966-1238
Last edited by bnowell724 on January 21st 2009, 11:25pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#16
Posted January 21st 2009, 10:04pm
Mike summed up my take on Baladi pretty well. The baba was good, but my lamb kabob pita contained chewy cubes that didn't seem to have been intimate with a grill.

I should say that the pita I picked up from the shop next store were light, spongy and freshly made. I also enjoyed assortment I brought home from Village Pita & Bakery. I believe there was a bialy-looking device that had been cluster-bombed with za'atar - that was a highlight.

I should also mention that at one of our grocery stops, I found some good looking bagged gigantes beans to use in this recipe. As cooksguide points out in print and in the linked post, it can be difficult to find these beans in anything but old and shriveled condition.

I bought a 2 lb package of Cedar's brand from one of the establishments we hit. These beans were in considerably better shape than what I typically find where they are carried. I like this recipe and I have enough beans for 3 more batches. Just another reason to like Bridgeview. Thanks for the legwork and in-depth account, Mike G!
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#17
Posted January 28th 2009, 4:28pm
LynnB wrote:I found some pickled hot peppers that looked tasty and some cheese I'd never seen before.

When the weather warms up a bit, I think the cheese will make a nice addition to a light meal of pita, hummus, and olives, instead of our usual feta.

You might be a bit surprised the first time if you sub it for feta. It's dried labneh, so its moisture content is virtually nil. It's more like a sour cream cheese. It's also likely made from cow's milk rather than sheep's milk.

Not saying it's bad, just quite different from feta.
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#18
Posted January 28th 2009, 6:56pm
You might be a bit surprised the first time if you sub it for feta. It's dried labneh, so its moisture content is virtually nil. It's more like a sour cream cheese. It's also likely made from cow's milk rather than sheep's milk.

Not saying it's bad, just quite different from feta.


Interesting. Now I'm really intrigued. Guess I'll have to crack open that jar soon!
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#19
Posted January 29th 2009, 7:51am
LynnB wrote:
You might be a bit surprised the first time if you sub it for feta. It's dried labneh, so its moisture content is virtually nil. It's more like a sour cream cheese. It's also likely made from cow's milk rather than sheep's milk.

Not saying it's bad, just quite different from feta.


Interesting. Now I'm really intrigued. Guess I'll have to crack open that jar soon!



Best way to eat Labneh is to douse it with za'tar and go at it with freshly toasted arabic (pita) bread. It helps when the labneh is sitting in a lake of olive oil.

And in case anyone doesn't know - ALWAYS heat your arabic bread. Unless you have a bag that was freshly baked, eating without heating is like chewing on cardboard (same rule applies for corn tortillas, more or less).

Best way to heat arabic bread?? Toaster is fine, but for a nice uneven char that approximates fresh out of the oven (or tandoor), use a gas stovetop. It takes some practice - you have to flip the bread every 5-10 seconds depending on how high you put the gas, but in the end you have more control over the toasting and the end product is much better than what you get from a toaster oven. In a little while, you will be juggling four pieces of bread at a time while trying to find a suitable serving dish, scooping the labneh out of the jar, and looking for the za'atar.

:D
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#20
Posted February 10th 2009, 10:51pm
Mike G wrote:Albawadi Grill
7216 W 87th Street
Bridgeview, IL 60455
708-599-1999


Go here.

The high points: motawma (what I know as toum, a garlicky mousse that is delicious on chicken, french fries, pita...), the delicious spicy pickles and eggplant spread, the kefta and grilled chicken in the mixed grill, and the peppery biryani rice. The kefta casserole with tahini was interesting and very good, like a kefta meatloaf with potato and tahini. The only real disappointment was the incredibly dry shawerma, but it might be great when they're a bit busier.

We got everything below for about $35 before tip, and took home about a third of it. We're already looking forward to having a date night of Al Bawadi + Haunted Trails mini-golf.

Pickles, eggplant spread
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Motawam/toum
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Hummus (foreground, almost all tahini..) and baba ghanouj
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Mixed grill
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Kofta Casserole
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#21
Posted February 11th 2009, 4:56pm
So finally, on my third visit to Albawadi, I managed to have a camera in tow. Since David Hammond was there on assignment he was already planning to go in the kitchen, so I tagged along. Here's the grill as Kal, the owner, fans the fire to make a nice picture for us:

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He says his rig was made specially for this purpose in a style very common in the middle east, just wide enough for kabobs to fit across. With the true passion for barbecuing that leaps across cultural boundaries, he spoke of his commitment to real charcoal barbecuing and the unique flavor it provides, and of the need to use lump charcoal, not some briquette full of mystery chemicals that will end up leaving a funny taste on the food. (Hmm, where have I heard all this before?)

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Everything is made freshly each day, meats grilled to order, falafel fried to order, the whole bit. Business has picked up quickly, he seemed to say, both in the restaurant and catering; originally when I spoke to one of the waiters a few months ago he said the addition was for a hookah room, but the way Kal talked about it today it sounded like it's simply going to be a bigger dining room and kitchen (with another, larger, grill setup) to accommodate all the business they're drawing.

I have yet to order seafood but he showed us the salmon and shrimp kebabs seasoned but waiting to go on the fire:

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Typical of the extra effort Albawadi goes to is the fact that our beef shish kebab arrived with two different flavors of rice-- one mound of fluffy yellow rice (which I'm normally no fan of, but then it's normally not this moist) and another of the same rice cooked with a little tomato. Beyond that, I'll let others comment on our lunch but once again, most of what we had was at least among the best of its kind I've had in town and I remain convinced that Albawadi is the most consistently excellent middle-eastern restaurant in the area.
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#22
Posted February 11th 2009, 6:57pm
Mmmm...meat and fire....I was really wishing I was available today - next time!
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#23
Posted February 11th 2009, 10:23pm
Lunch today was very good. I think the real star at Al-bawadi is anything grilled over the coals. The salad type dishes (hummos, baba ganoush, etc.) were good as well, but I don't think they were anything out of the ordinary. The falafel was interestingly spiced in a way I have not encountered before. I suspect that they are made Syrian style, since there seems to be a Syrian connection (as well as Palestinian) at Al-bawadi. My personal taste favors Salam for those items, but the grilled meat over lump charcoal is a completely different story. That is worth making the trek for. As soon as you hit the parking lot, the smell of grilling meat over charcoal fills the air.

We also tried the Kefta casserole with tahini that gleam posted about up thread. To me, this tasted like swiss steak with a tangy cream sauce on it. It was my least favorite dish of the day. I don't think I'll be ordering that dish or recommending it in the future, opting instead for the charcoal grilled version of kefta instead.
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#24
Posted February 11th 2009, 10:51pm
I have to concur re: kefta casserole. I was unmoved by the flavors, and the spuds on top seemed odd. Grilled meat was excellent -- I'd like to try the fish.

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The felafel (in front of MikeG) was also very pleasing, though I was glad that stevez asked for "hot sauce," which I thought added a welcome dimension to several dishes.

Maybe I don't eat Middle Eastern food often enough: the baked crouton-like pita chips in the salad were a new one on me.
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#25
Posted February 12th 2009, 6:07am
David Hammond wrote:Maybe I don't eat Middle Eastern food often enough: the baked crouton-like pita chips in the salad were a new one on me.


The pita chips are standard issue for fattoush, but sometimes they are left to soak up a bit more of the dressing before being served. These were pretty crispy and dry (crouton-like). I agree about the fish. The picture upthread of skewers of salmon and shrimp looked very promising. I'll certainly be back sooner than later to try more grilled items.
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#26
Posted February 12th 2009, 8:00am
Thanks for the pics, and detailed report on Albawadi, I see a visit for lunch today in the cards.
one question, do they accept credit cards?
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#27
Posted February 12th 2009, 9:23am
jimswside wrote:Thanks for the pics, and detailed report on Albawadi, I see a visit for lunch today in the cards.
one question, do they accept credit cards?


The sign on the door indicates the full complement, the sign under the register has just Visa/MC. We paid with Mastercard.
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#28
Posted February 12th 2009, 9:26am
gleam wrote:the sign under the register has just Visa/MC. We paid with Mastercard.


thanks, really looking forward to lunch there today. The mixed grill, and the Motawma look really good.
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#29
Posted February 12th 2009, 9:36am
Here's some more specific notes on stuff besides the grilled meats which are, needless to say, the star attraction:

Falafel: these really sparkle to me. I suspect they have a lot more fresh parsley than we're used to, maybe other things as well. Definitely among the best I've had.

Hummus: I'm not fond of hummus that has more tahini than chickpea, and unfortunately that seems to be the case with all the places down here.

Baba ghanoush: I like this better, though I agree with Stevez that it's a solid version, not a noticeably better version. (Actually I think Baladi's was a little better.)

Sausage: there's a little item on the app menu that says sausages cooked in lemon sauce or something like that. Easy to overlook that description but these are quite good, merguez-like lamb sausages in a sharp lemon sauce. Unfortunately, they were out yesterday.

Kufta casserole: I agree with the above, not that exciting and drowned in tahini.

Toshka (I think, something like that): shawerma meat and cheese cooked inside a pita. Pigmon spoke highly of these after one visit but I think both Rene G and I found them too cheesy.

Arabic salad: we had this last week and it was probably more interesting than the Fattoush.

Also, if you're in the area, you should definitely visit some of the adjacent shops, there's very good things within a short walking distance. Al-Amal Grocery, across the street, has the best selection of middle-eastern breads from probably 5 or 6 different bakeries. Rasheed Grocery, in the same mall as Albawadi, has in-house baked whole wheat pita and other flatbreads as well. And I'd definitely swing by Village Pita, in a standalone building at the west end of the Albawadi mall's parking lot, and get some of their spinach pie type stuff to go.
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#30
Posted February 12th 2009, 9:54am
Mike G wrote:And I'd definitely swing by Village Pita, in a standalone building at the west end of the Albawadi mall's parking lot, and get some of their spinach pie type stuff to go.


On your recommendation, we did stop by Village Pita and got many savory items. I brought home many pockets, tubes and open-faced pies of tomato, sweet pepper, cheese and oregano; they were immediately consumed by the Boy.

One note: pickings seemed a little slim around 1:30PM, so it might be advisable to get to this place a little earlier in the day.
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