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Naf Naf Grill - Niles Version

Naf Naf Grill - Niles Version
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  • Naf Naf Grill - Niles Version

    Post #1 - December 15th, 2011, 3:31 pm
    Post #1 - December 15th, 2011, 3:31 pm Post #1 - December 15th, 2011, 3:31 pm
    Normally I don't hit a restaurant on opening day, especially if they're giving out free food. However, I needed some stuff from Fresh Farms so this was a no-brainer. My office is five minutes from here.

    I got there at around 1:00. No lines and a decent crowd inside - most of which appeared to be from Shure Brothers down the street. Even though I was first in line, nobody appeared to have any interest in taking my order. After a minute or so, a manager-type person took my order and gave me the vibrator thingy along with a cup for my beverage.

    By the time I got my drink and claimed a table, the vibrator went off and I retrieved my shawarma sandwich. My sandwich was quite tasty and well seasoned. I supplemented it with a bit of the hot sauce. As expected the pita bread was freakingly fresh.

    The room layout is similar to the previous tenant, Baja Fresh. You walk in and order to the left. The open kitchen is directly behind the counter. There's a cubbie hole where you can watch the bread being made.

    Unlike Naf Naf Naperville, the ceilings here appear to be lower and have soundproofing so you can carry a decent conversation. I'm not positive that the construction is 100% complete as there appeared to be only one garbage can in the place and it had no cover and was on wheels. Also, there's no official place to put your basket after you've emptied it. The counter area around the soft drink dispenser appeared haphazardly arranged.

    Overall, a good sandwich. As expected, opening day jitters which will be worked out. As discussed in other threads, I feel that it's a tad pricey for what you get.

    Naf Naf
    5716 W. Touhy Ave.
    Niles, IL 60714
    (It’s the same plaza as Fresh Farms and Wal-Mart)
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #2 - December 15th, 2011, 3:48 pm
    Post #2 - December 15th, 2011, 3:48 pm Post #2 - December 15th, 2011, 3:48 pm
    A few of my work-mates stopped in today and enjoyed what they ate but also felt it was a bit pricey, especially compared to Pita Inn-Skokie, which is in our regular lunch rotation. I'm looking forward to checking Naf Naf out next week.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - December 15th, 2011, 4:09 pm
    Post #3 - December 15th, 2011, 4:09 pm Post #3 - December 15th, 2011, 4:09 pm
    They definitely should have trash cans, but they bus your tables for you. I know the one in Naperville is very good about it, but eating lunch there today, I didn't see anyone clearing tables so i got up looking for a trash can and the manager informed me that they will clean it up for you.

    The shawarma was as delicious as it's ever been in Naperville. I initially thought Naf Naf was a bit pricey, but eating out for lunch more and more, it seems like you can't get a decent lunch for much less than $10 anymore.
  • Post #4 - December 15th, 2011, 8:09 pm
    Post #4 - December 15th, 2011, 8:09 pm Post #4 - December 15th, 2011, 8:09 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:A few of my work-mates stopped in today and enjoyed what they ate but also felt it was a bit pricey, especially compared to Pita Inn-Skokie, which is in our regular lunch rotation. I'm looking forward to checking Naf Naf out next week.

    =R=

    If you have access to a Pita Inn during weekday lunch-time hours, not much ANYWHERE (Mid-Eeastern or not) is gonna compare to the BLS if that's what your work mates get. I usually wind up at the Pita Inn Wheeling at least once a week for the special, and it rarely disappoints, and is generally stellar for the price. If Naf Naf was side by side to a Pita Inn, I'd choose Pita Inn for the value and quality, but naf-naf's pita and their lentil soup with a healthy dollop of their hot sauce is what I think is really special about the place. The falafel and chicken shawarma are both very decent as well. I don't think the Naf is gonna blow you away, but those Israeli pitas will have you second guessing Pita Inn once in a while. If I'm ever out in Naperthrill, Naf Naf is definitely on my mind for the soup and the pitas. First time I went, I thought it was overpriced as well, but those pitas and that soup...kinda droolworthy. I stick to soup with hot sauce, baba ghanouj with falafel, and a chicken shawarma sandwich for two ppl. I've had a few other menu items, and well..yeah...that's what I stick with.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #5 - December 16th, 2011, 6:01 am
    Post #5 - December 16th, 2011, 6:01 am Post #5 - December 16th, 2011, 6:01 am
    Got there about 4:45, and there were about five other patrons eating in Naf Naf Grill. No line. I was going to order a mixture of items to go, but was immediately informed by a newbie order-taker that they were out of everything except falafel pita. No free shawarma, but they did sub a free falafel pita with the other two I ordered. Maybe it was a soft opening or limited-item roll out, but to be out of everything?! I heard the manager apologizing that they had gone through 250 free shawarma. Come on--they didn't expect that? Free food brings out the masses!

    So after waiting 20 minutes, I took my three falafel pita home & while messy, these sandwiches definitely hold up in quality to Pita Inn, albeit different in that Naf Naf's pitas are softer, almost to the point of being doughy. The falafel were larger & appeared less compact than Pita Inn's, but almost identical in taste--a good thing. Israeli salad that was inside the sandwich (guess they had that, just not enough to supply an order of it!) was very similar to Pita Inn's Jerusalem Salad, although not quite as juicy. Good quality though. And I liked Naf Naf's coriander-laden hot sauce as well.

    Definite first-day jitters from poor planning were apparent, but since Naf Naf has already done this before, I expect the snafus to be rectified in short order. In my rotation? Maybe--I'd like to try some of the other items before deciding that.
  • Post #6 - December 16th, 2011, 12:16 pm
    Post #6 - December 16th, 2011, 12:16 pm Post #6 - December 16th, 2011, 12:16 pm
    I happened to be in Skokie yesterday, so I went by to visit and ended up with a free Shawarma. To clarify - everything was free and it was a limited menu - just free shawarma or falafel sandwiches and fountain drinks. That was the plan. Not sure if someone did not explain that clearly or if it was misunderstood, but I asked and was told that is all that was being done yesterday.

    Also was there at 1 and was a little surprised there was not a big line.

    Since I rarely have the Shawarma or Falafel when I go to Naf Naf, it is not easy for me to compare to N'ville - I prefer the Kifta Kabab, followed by the thigh kabab. The owners of Naf Naf have Pita Inn connections, used to work there, I am pretty sure, so they must have some plan to compete. Having said that, I am absolutely sure Naf Naf is not trying to compete on price. They never have been a cheap option. You get a big sandwich with good quality salad and sauce, fresh Pita, nice, free pickles and hot sauce. Is that worth the extra charge? Those warm Pita pillows are a treat...
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #7 - December 16th, 2011, 3:42 pm
    Post #7 - December 16th, 2011, 3:42 pm Post #7 - December 16th, 2011, 3:42 pm
    Hi,

    I have stopped going to Pita Inn, which changed quite a bit after opening a location on Milwaukee Avenue. The last straw was when the babaganoush tasted off from too much sesame paste.

    I look forward to trying Naf Naf in Niles.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #8 - December 16th, 2011, 3:59 pm
    Post #8 - December 16th, 2011, 3:59 pm Post #8 - December 16th, 2011, 3:59 pm
    seebee wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:A few of my work-mates stopped in today and enjoyed what they ate but also felt it was a bit pricey, especially compared to Pita Inn-Skokie, which is in our regular lunch rotation. I'm looking forward to checking Naf Naf out next week.

    =R=

    If you have access to a Pita Inn during weekday lunch-time hours, not much ANYWHERE (Mid-Eeastern or not) is gonna compare to the BLS if that's what your work mates get. I usually wind up at the Pita Inn Wheeling at least once a week for the special, and it rarely disappoints, and is generally stellar for the price. If Naf Naf was side by side to a Pita Inn, I'd choose Pita Inn for the value and quality, but naf-naf's pita and their lentil soup with a healthy dollop of their hot sauce is what I think is really special about the place. The falafel and chicken shawarma are both very decent as well. I don't think the Naf is gonna blow you away, but those Israeli pitas will have you second guessing Pita Inn once in a while. If I'm ever out in Naperthrill, Naf Naf is definitely on my mind for the soup and the pitas. First time I went, I thought it was overpriced as well, but those pitas and that soup...kinda droolworthy. I stick to soup with hot sauce, baba ghanouj with falafel, and a chicken shawarma sandwich for two ppl. I've had a few other menu items, and well..yeah...that's what I stick with.

    I've only beef to Naf Naf Grill once (Naperville location) but it was excellent. I do really enjoy Pita Inn. Not everything is great there but I really enjoy the BLS (business lunch special), the hummus, falafel, jerusalem salad, hot sauce and tabouleh. Ironically, their pita, which are freshly-baked throughout the day, are almost entirely devoid of flavor. They're fresh but that's about the best thing you can say about them.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #9 - December 16th, 2011, 4:11 pm
    Post #9 - December 16th, 2011, 4:11 pm Post #9 - December 16th, 2011, 4:11 pm
    I had a nice lunch today at Naf Naf. I think they are still working through some operational issues, but the food was good and I'm sure they will hit their stride soon.

    I ordered the kifta on pita. They have a "deluxe" package that includes choice of soup, rice or fries and a soft drink priced at just under $10 including tax. A little expensive? I don't really think so when you consider the quality and size of the sandwich plus the free pickles and harissa, though I'm not sure that last part is anything out of the ordinary for middle eastern restaurants.

    The odd thing was that my order seemed to take an inordinate length of time to come up, and when it did, the kifta was lukewarm and my fries were missing. The counter person said that the fries weren't ready yet, but she would bring them out to me once they were. Sure enough, after a few minutes my fries arrived hot from the fryer. Obviously there was some sort of snafu in which my sandwich sat there waiting for fries that were never cooked. These type of things will work themselves out over a short time and I don't hold this against them at all.

    The kifta was very good, with a strong curry/cumin note that I found to be a nice diversion from the flavor profile of the kifta served at Arabic restaurants. The Jerusalem salad was a nice counterpoint to the meat and was well balanced. A bit of the free harissa put it over the top for me. But the real star of the show were the fries, which are cut like potato chips and fried to a nice mix of soft and crisp pieces. I initially ordered rice to go with my sandwich, but then I remembered these and changed my order. I'd put their fries at equal status to their pillowy pitas as not to miss items.

    I'm glad to have Naf Naf in my neighborhood. I never got to visit as much as I would have liked when it meant a drive to Naperville.

    In terms of Pita Inn, comparing them to Naf Naf is an apples to oranges comparison. I like them both, but I consider them to be two different types of food in the same way that Japanese and Korean food are both Asian, but not the same thing at all.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #10 - December 17th, 2011, 5:51 am
    Post #10 - December 17th, 2011, 5:51 am Post #10 - December 17th, 2011, 5:51 am
    I'm glad to hear they are finally open! Our general Saturday grocery rotation is Costo and then Fresh Farms, so it will be nice to have somewhere convenient to grab lunch if we get hungry in the middle.
  • Post #11 - January 1st, 2012, 9:45 pm
    Post #11 - January 1st, 2012, 9:45 pm Post #11 - January 1st, 2012, 9:45 pm
    We tried Naf Naf a couple of weeks ago. I think the most relevant comparison is not to Pita Inn (which I agree this is superior to in almost every way except price) but rather Mizrahi Grill in Highland Park. Keeping in mind that I have eaten at Mizrahi many, many times and at Naf Naf only once, the following are some initial observations:


    Shawarma

    Naf Naf's is chicken, whereas Mizrahi's is a turkey/lamb mixture. Whether due to ingredients, cooking method, or both, Naf Naf's shawarma is much juicier, at the expense of crispness. Naf Naf's is also spiced much more assertively.

    I'd say it's a draw here because even though Naf Naf's meat is more flavorful, to me crispy bits are an essential element of good shawarma.

    (Both shawarmas, incidentally, were absolutely blown out of the water by an amazing crisp-and-juicy number I recently pretty much inhaled at Judah Mediterranean Grill in Philadelphia.)


    Falafel

    Again, Naf Naf's is moister but lacking the crisp shell of really good falafel. But the flavor itself is bold and herbal; I quite enjoy Mizrahi's falafel, but I think I liked this more.


    Pita

    Very similar, but I believe Naf Naf's is slightly larger and not as thick. Both are very good and it's hard to choose between them.


    Toppings

    Here, Mizrahi wins hands down. Naf Naf gives you the standard tahini/hummus/Israeli salad and there are pickles on the side which you are free to apply yourself. Mizrahi has all those and also adds cabbage salad and fries to the mix. (Theoretically, you could also request one or more of their other salads as toppings, although I've never tried this.) Sometimes I feel like fries and sometimes I don't, but the cabbage salad is an important part of making the overall sandwich come together. Naf Naf has containers of hot sauce already portioned out, à la Pita Inn; you have to request it at Mizrahi. The hot sauces are also different -- Naf Naf's is thinner and pourable, whereas Mizrahi's is more of a paste. Both are very good.

    Price

    I believe Naf Naf is somewhat cheaper across the board.


    Hmm... I feel like I should have some sweeping conclusion here, but I seem to have run out of steam. I still prefer Mizrahi, but it's a very close call. Mizrahi does have more options, especially as far as appetizers, soups, and salads. While the falafel I tried at Naf Naf was close to my Platonic ideal, the overall sandwich at Mizrahi appeals more to me. I would guess that although I'll end up being a regular at both, most of the time I'll be taking that extra 15-minute drive up Edens.
  • Post #12 - January 2nd, 2012, 2:35 am
    Post #12 - January 2nd, 2012, 2:35 am Post #12 - January 2nd, 2012, 2:35 am
    cilantro wrote:We tried Naf Naf a couple of weeks ago. I think the most relevant comparison is not to Pita Inn (which I agree this is superior to in almost every way except price) but rather Mizrahi Grill in Highland Park. Keeping in mind that I have eaten at Mizrahi many, many times and at Naf Naf only once, the following are some initial observations:


    Shawarma

    Naf Naf's is chicken, whereas Mizrahi's is a turkey/lamb mixture. Whether due to ingredients, cooking method, or both, Naf Naf's shawarma is much juicier, at the expense of crispness. Naf Naf's is also spiced much more assertively.

    I'd say it's a draw here because even though Naf Naf's meat is more flavorful, to me crispy bits are an essential element of good shawarma.

    (Both shawarmas, incidentally, were absolutely blown out of the water by an amazing crisp-and-juicy number I recently pretty much inhaled at Judah Mediterranean Grill in Philadelphia.)


    Falafel

    Again, Naf Naf's is moister but lacking the crisp shell of really good falafel. But the flavor itself is bold and herbal; I quite enjoy Mizrahi's falafel, but I think I liked this more.


    Pita

    Very similar, but I believe Naf Naf's is slightly larger and not as thick. Both are very good and it's hard to choose between them.


    Toppings

    Here, Mizrahi wins hands down. Naf Naf gives you the standard tahini/hummus/Israeli salad and there are pickles on the side which you are free to apply yourself. Mizrahi has all those and also adds cabbage salad and fries to the mix. (Theoretically, you could also request one or more of their other salads as toppings, although I've never tried this.) Sometimes I feel like fries and sometimes I don't, but the cabbage salad is an important part of making the overall sandwich come together. Naf Naf has containers of hot sauce already portioned out, à la Pita Inn; you have to request it at Mizrahi. The hot sauces are also different -- Naf Naf's is thinner and pourable, whereas Mizrahi's is more of a paste. Both are very good.

    Price

    I believe Naf Naf is somewhat cheaper across the board.


    Hmm... I feel like I should have some sweeping conclusion here, but I seem to have run out of steam. I still prefer Mizrahi, but it's a very close call. Mizrahi does have more options, especially as far as appetizers, soups, and salads. While the falafel I tried at Naf Naf was close to my Platonic ideal, the overall sandwich at Mizrahi appeals more to me. I would guess that although I'll end up being a regular at both, most of the time I'll be taking that extra 15-minute drive up Edens.

    I pretty much agree with your assessment, across the board. Mizrahi is a much better comparison to Naf Naf than Pita Inn. I agree that they have a better selection of toppings and salads than Naf Naf. I like Naf Naf's shawarma and hot sauce better than Mizrahi's. And yes, it's cheaper than Mizrahi. For my palate, neither place's tahini or hummus are acidic enough. I was seriously disappointed when I asked for a lemon wedge at Naf Naf (was going to tweak my hummus), and was told there weren't any. We were given a small cup of what I'm guessing was bottled lemon juice, which is so pre-fab, it's painful. I don't know if that was a function of their having just opened but my subsequent experiences at Naf Naf have been carry-out, so I've been able to use the lemons I keep at my office to condiment my food and don't know if they have fresh lemons there or not.

    Since Naf Naf is so near my office, I'll continue to patronize them for lunch on a regular basis. It's reliably solid. Mizrahi is too long a drive for lunch but it is still on my 'eat there occasionally' radar, though the fact that they are closed on Fridays and Saturdays is an obstacle to dining there, given my normal routine.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #13 - January 3rd, 2012, 7:33 pm
    Post #13 - January 3rd, 2012, 7:33 pm Post #13 - January 3rd, 2012, 7:33 pm
    Have not been to Naf Naf yet but am looking forward to trying - I agree with the comments on Pita Inn and Mizrahi Grill - I would also throw Taboun Grill on Dmepster into that mix very good falafel and shwarma -
  • Post #14 - January 3rd, 2012, 10:35 pm
    Post #14 - January 3rd, 2012, 10:35 pm Post #14 - January 3rd, 2012, 10:35 pm
    Carried out lunch again on Tuesday from Naf Naf and it was a perfectly respectable post-holiday re-entry lunch. I ordered the chicken shawarma "on a plate," which comes with a choice of 2 of the following 3 sides: basmati rice, fries and Israeli salad. Interestingly, when ordered to go, the "on a plate" items are packed very diligently, with the shawarma, the rice and the salad all in separate, small foil pans. The chicken was just excellent -- nicely spiced and very moist but also with plenty of crispy exterior pieces, too. Pitas were fresh, soft, pillowy and tasty. Hot sauce provides nice heat and good flavor. I guess I'm just not a huge fan of their tahini, which is too thick and lacking enough punch to accentuate or enhance the meat at all. I feel the same way about their hummus. It's creamy but kind of gets lost a bit from lack of punch. I posted above that it might be acidity that's missing from these 2 items but I'm honestly not sure.

    I also had some falafel at this meal and I like them more than Mizrahi's because they seem more seasoned and possess a bit more textural contrast beween exterior and interior. They've got more of a crust and are more fluffy/less creamy than Mizrahi's. But neither come close to Pita Inn's, IMO. For my preference, it's Pita Inn's that have the best texture (inside and out) and flavor.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #15 - January 29th, 2012, 7:42 pm
    Post #15 - January 29th, 2012, 7:42 pm Post #15 - January 29th, 2012, 7:42 pm
    I had my first visit to this location (have never been to the Naperville location) and I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. The biggest disappointment to me was the falafel sandwich. The whole sandwich was just too mushy in every respect. The falafel were flavorful enough and seemed fresh, but there wasn't any crispness to them and they were even slightly undercooked in the middle. Coupled with the pita bread which is ultra-soft, the whole thing was just too mushy. Now I realize many are a fan of their pitas, and yes it's baked fresh, but this very fluffy-style pita is just not really my thing. But that's really my issue; the mushy falafel is Naf Naf's though and it must be fixed. (The accompanying french fries - or cottage fries if you will - were quite enjoyable though.)

    I also tried the chicken shawarma sandwich and aside from my general lack of enthusiasm for the pita, I thought it was decent. I prefer the slightly more aggressive seasoning of some of the places on Kedzie, as well as the crispier bits which were largely lacking, but it was certainly a moist sandwich and decent.

    Finally, baba ganoush was fine, although I think the eggplant could be improved by a deeper roasting.

    Staff was friendly enough and when I'm back in the area I might consider a return to try some different menu items, but my lunch experience won't have me going out of my way for a return visit.
  • Post #16 - February 1st, 2012, 2:36 pm
    Post #16 - February 1st, 2012, 2:36 pm Post #16 - February 1st, 2012, 2:36 pm
    Maybe Im and old guy so soft food is fine, but I loved loved loved the falafel sandwich. The at first the softness surprised me, but then I really found the flavor of them to be really pleasing, along with the condiments made for a very tasty sandwich. The hot sauce was very good, it gave a nice heat to the food, not instant but a growing increase in heat. The place is pricey (compared to again....... Pita Inn) but being close to my office is a place I will add to a much less frequent rotation of places I eat out at for lunch. I also was sorry not to see lemon available, to add to my tea.
  • Post #17 - February 1st, 2012, 2:51 pm
    Post #17 - February 1st, 2012, 2:51 pm Post #17 - February 1st, 2012, 2:51 pm
    2146 north wrote:Maybe Im and old guy so soft food is fine, but I loved loved loved the falafel sandwich. The at first the softness surprised me, but then I really found the flavor of them to be really pleasing, along with the condiments made for a very tasty sandwich. The hot sauce was very good, it gave a nice heat to the food, not instant but a growing increase in heat. The place is pricey (compared to again....... Pita Inn) but being close to my office is a place I will add to a much less frequent rotation of places I eat out at for lunch. I also was sorry not to see lemon available, to add to my tea.

    The non-availability of fresh lemon continues to be a disappointment and, for me, gives Naf Naf a pre-fab, fakey-food vibe that I admit may not be entirely deserved. But it's the main reason I don't patronize the place nearly as often as I otherwise might. I'm still a fan of their chicken shawarma, puffy pita, hot sauce and lentil soup. I carry-out, as long as I remember to bring a lemon from home.

    I don't know if Pita Inn has lemons but frankly, their food doesn't need them, so I've never asked.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #18 - February 2nd, 2012, 10:23 am
    Post #18 - February 2nd, 2012, 10:23 am Post #18 - February 2nd, 2012, 10:23 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:I don't know if Pita Inn has lemons but frankly, their food doesn't need them, so I've never asked.

    =R=


    I'm almost positive they serve them with their teas.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach

    I write fiction. You can find me—and some stories—on Facebook, Twitter and my website.
  • Post #19 - February 4th, 2012, 2:48 pm
    Post #19 - February 4th, 2012, 2:48 pm Post #19 - February 4th, 2012, 2:48 pm
    Stopped at Naf Naf Niles for the first time on my way to Fresh Farms. I've never been to the Naperville store, so I was a Naf Newbie. I concur with most of what's already been said above -- mushy falafel, but still serviceable. I prefer Mizrahi for the overall texture -- a bit crunchy, a bit snappy. But I will give Naf Naf credit for their fries -- a mix between cottage fries and chips. I'll stop in again to try their meat options -- the kifta looked nice.
  • Post #20 - February 4th, 2012, 2:58 pm
    Post #20 - February 4th, 2012, 2:58 pm Post #20 - February 4th, 2012, 2:58 pm
    My biggest disappointment with Naf Naf was the tabbouleh salad. In my experience an excellent tabbouleh should be a nice balance of parsley and bulgur wheat (with some mint, cucumber and tomato), but Naf Naf's version was almost entirely parsley salad. I would not recommend it.

    I found the falafel and shawarma both creditable. The falafel, perhaps not as crisp as some (as others have noted), had a very pleasant herbal mix. It was a distinctive flavor that I found enjoyable.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #21 - June 10th, 2012, 1:51 pm
    Post #21 - June 10th, 2012, 1:51 pm Post #21 - June 10th, 2012, 1:51 pm
    We finally got to the Niles Naf Naf Grill, on a side visit from the Fresh Farms Market in the center. Although we are Pita Inn loyalists, we'll be back! It seemed that the service issues reported above have been resolved, and the food that we tried was quite good, and reasonably priced.

    We tried the vegetarian feast and a chicken shawarma pita, and thought we got a good value sharing the two for dinner.

    The chicken shawarma was really moist, although not as aggressively seasoned as the chicken shawarma at Pita Inn (Skokie). I especially liked the addition of the Isreali salad, which perked up the texture a bit, as did the hummus. The pita was light and fluffy, but did not tear at the bottom, so the dining process was not too messy. I prefer the Pita Inn bread, but I can understand why others may prefer Naf Naf's pita.

    The veggie feast was really impressive, the hummus was good, the tabule was very good (a touch less tasty than Pita Inn), and the Baba Ganoush was exceptional, best I've ever had. It was subtly balanced with smoke and good eggplant flavor, but lighter and less oily than others I've tried. I'm not a falafel gourmet, but my wife said hers was well seasoned, spicy, and overall very good. It seemed that the falafel seemed cooked at too high a temperature; the crust, while crunchy, was a bit too browned.

    But that is really nit-picking, and although we find Pita Inn to be a superior value (and much closer to our home!), we'll be patronizing Naf Naf as well. Given the mediocre dining at Village Crossing, Naf Naf is a real standout, with fresh and tasty food at fair prices.
  • Post #22 - June 12th, 2013, 6:33 am
    Post #22 - June 12th, 2013, 6:33 am Post #22 - June 12th, 2013, 6:33 am
    BR wrote:I had my first visit to this location (have never been to the Naperville location) and I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. The biggest disappointment to me was the falafel sandwich. The whole sandwich was just too mushy in every respect. The falafel were flavorful enough and seemed fresh, but there wasn't any crispness to them and they were even slightly undercooked in the middle. Coupled with the pita bread which is ultra-soft, the whole thing was just too mushy. Now I realize many are a fan of their pitas, and yes it's baked fresh, but this very fluffy-style pita is just not really my thing. But that's really my issue; the mushy falafel is Naf Naf's though and it must be fixed. (The accompanying french fries - or cottage fries if you will - were quite enjoyable though.)

    I also tried the chicken shawarma sandwich and aside from my general lack of enthusiasm for the pita, I thought it was decent. I prefer the slightly more aggressive seasoning of some of the places on Kedzie, as well as the crispier bits which were largely lacking, but it was certainly a moist sandwich and decent.

    Finally, baba ganoush was fine, although I think the eggplant could be improved by a deeper roasting.

    Staff was friendly enough and when I'm back in the area I might consider a return to try some different menu items, but my lunch experience won't have me going out of my way for a return visit.

    Naf Naf has now opened in Rosemont (near the Allstate Arena). Including a couple of soon-to-be locations, they'll soon have 8 locations. The assembly line procedure reminds me of Chipotle quite a bit, but I'll admit that I enjoyed my first visit to the Rosemont location far more than my only other Naf Naf visit. Chicken shawarma was tasty (though I still don't love the fluffy pita, but this pita was slightly less fluffy than I recall). Also, I had a falafel on the side and this was far better than the falafel I had on my first visit (Niles). Hot, crisp, and very well seasoned. I thought their seasoned rice was very good too.

    It's certainly never going to be my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, but given their Chipotle-esque decor/style, I can probably get some of my non-adventurous food friends here without a battle (bringing back memories of Marge Simpson investigating possible restaurant franchises, exploring the Middle Eastern concept, where they called tahini "flavor sauce" . . . loved that!).
  • Post #23 - June 12th, 2013, 6:46 am
    Post #23 - June 12th, 2013, 6:46 am Post #23 - June 12th, 2013, 6:46 am
    BR wrote:It's certainly never going to be my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, but given their Chipotle-esque decor/style, I can probably get some of my non-adventurous food friends here without a battle (bringing back memories of Marge Simpson investigating possible restaurant franchises, exploring the Middle Eastern concept, where they called tahini "flavor sauce" . . . loved that!).


    Like Chipotle they use quality ingredients and take care in their preparation. I agree that it's not THE best example of the cuisine in town, but I've found it to be very consistent (I've yet to have a bad falafel) and overall a great option near my office (I'm around the corner from the downtown location). The varied price points are a little odd, though. The downtown location has considerably lower prices that the Niles location (and a slightly different menu).
  • Post #24 - June 12th, 2013, 6:54 am
    Post #24 - June 12th, 2013, 6:54 am Post #24 - June 12th, 2013, 6:54 am
    GAF wrote:My biggest disappointment with Naf Naf was the tabbouleh salad. In my experience an excellent tabbouleh should be a nice balance of parsley and bulgur wheat (with some mint, cucumber and tomato), but Naf Naf's version was almost entirely parsley salad. I would not recommend it.
    One of the lessons learned from the newsgroup rec.food.cooking econs ago was the parsley component in tabbouleh varies widely country to country, region to region. Main thing I learned from rec.food.cooking is that heritage eaters will argue forever about nuance and every single one of them is 100% convinced they are abso-f'n-lutely correct.
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #25 - June 12th, 2013, 7:08 am
    Post #25 - June 12th, 2013, 7:08 am Post #25 - June 12th, 2013, 7:08 am
    BR wrote:
    BR wrote:I had my first visit to this location (have never been to the Naperville location) and I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. The biggest disappointment to me was the falafel sandwich. The whole sandwich was just too mushy in every respect. The falafel were flavorful enough and seemed fresh, but there wasn't any crispness to them and they were even slightly undercooked in the middle. Coupled with the pita bread which is ultra-soft, the whole thing was just too mushy. Now I realize many are a fan of their pitas, and yes it's baked fresh, but this very fluffy-style pita is just not really my thing. But that's really my issue; the mushy falafel is Naf Naf's though and it must be fixed. (The accompanying french fries - or cottage fries if you will - were quite enjoyable though.)

    I also tried the chicken shawarma sandwich and aside from my general lack of enthusiasm for the pita, I thought it was decent. I prefer the slightly more aggressive seasoning of some of the places on Kedzie, as well as the crispier bits which were largely lacking, but it was certainly a moist sandwich and decent.

    Finally, baba ganoush was fine, although I think the eggplant could be improved by a deeper roasting.

    Staff was friendly enough and when I'm back in the area I might consider a return to try some different menu items, but my lunch experience won't have me going out of my way for a return visit.

    Naf Naf has now opened in Rosemont (near the Allstate Arena). Including a couple of soon-to-be locations, they'll soon have 8 locations. The assembly line procedure reminds me of Chipotle quite a bit, but I'll admit that I enjoyed my first visit to the Rosemont location far more than my only other Naf Naf visit. Chicken shawarma was tasty (though I still don't love the fluffy pita, but this pita was slightly less fluffy than I recall). Also, I had a falafel on the side and this was far better than the falafel I had on my first visit (Niles). Hot, crisp, and very well seasoned. I thought their seasoned rice was very good too.

    It's certainly never going to be my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, but given their Chipotle-esque decor/style, I can probably get some of my non-adventurous food friends here without a battle (bringing back memories of Marge Simpson investigating possible restaurant franchises, exploring the Middle Eastern concept, where they called tahini "flavor sauce" . . . loved that!).


    I really liked the fully automated shawarma slicers they have
  • Post #26 - June 12th, 2013, 7:25 am
    Post #26 - June 12th, 2013, 7:25 am Post #26 - June 12th, 2013, 7:25 am
    fropones wrote:I really liked the fully automated shawarma slicers they have

    Noticed that too (and laughed a bit) . . . but necessary I suppose unless the person slicing is either 8 feet tall or has a ladder. Those were massive cones.
  • Post #27 - June 18th, 2013, 10:56 pm
    Post #27 - June 18th, 2013, 10:56 pm Post #27 - June 18th, 2013, 10:56 pm
    Reading some of the other postings I'm surprised not everybody loves the "fluffy" pita at Naf Naf Grill. I think it's fantastic and is the main reason I drop by. I do like their hummus and some other bits as well, but living close to Dhawarma and Semiramis --amongst others--the pita is what won me over. Whenever I goto the Costco in Niles (quite often it turns out) its hard for me not to drop by for that pita....

    Dirk
    Dirk van den Heuvel
  • Post #28 - June 18th, 2013, 11:36 pm
    Post #28 - June 18th, 2013, 11:36 pm Post #28 - June 18th, 2013, 11:36 pm
    groovedirk wrote:Reading some of the other postings I'm surprised not everybody loves the "fluffy" pita at Naf Naf Grill. I think it's fantastic and is the main reason I drop by. I do like their hummus and some other bits as well, but living close to Dhawarma and Semiramis --amongst others--the pita is what won me over. Whenever I goto the Costco in Niles (quite often it turns out) its hard for me not to drop by for that pita....

    I agree. There are a few other items I enjoy at Naf Naf but their pita is my favorite item, and the only item there I consider truly destination-worthy.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #29 - June 19th, 2013, 6:40 am
    Post #29 - June 19th, 2013, 6:40 am Post #29 - June 19th, 2013, 6:40 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    groovedirk wrote:Reading some of the other postings I'm surprised not everybody loves the "fluffy" pita at Naf Naf Grill. I think it's fantastic and is the main reason I drop by. I do like their hummus and some other bits as well, but living close to Dhawarma and Semiramis --amongst others--the pita is what won me over. Whenever I goto the Costco in Niles (quite often it turns out) its hard for me not to drop by for that pita....

    I agree. There are a few other items I enjoy at Naf Naf but their pita is my favorite item, and the only item there I consider truly destination-worthy.

    =R=

    The Wonder Bread of pitas . . . in this man's opinion. But that's what makes this board interesting, right?
  • Post #30 - June 19th, 2013, 10:16 am
    Post #30 - June 19th, 2013, 10:16 am Post #30 - June 19th, 2013, 10:16 am
    BR wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    groovedirk wrote:Reading some of the other postings I'm surprised not everybody loves the "fluffy" pita at Naf Naf Grill. I think it's fantastic and is the main reason I drop by. I do like their hummus and some other bits as well, but living close to Dhawarma and Semiramis --amongst others--the pita is what won me over. Whenever I goto the Costco in Niles (quite often it turns out) its hard for me not to drop by for that pita....

    I agree. There are a few other items I enjoy at Naf Naf but their pita is my favorite item, and the only item there I consider truly destination-worthy.

    =R=

    The Wonder Bread of pitas . . . in this man's opinion. But that's what makes this board interesting, right?


    It is interesting how polarizing their bread is. I'm on the like very much side of the battle.

    With my wife's mostly vegan diet now, we're spending an inordinate amount of meals out, when we do eat out, at Naf Naf (there's other reasons too including being near Barnes and Nobel and Fresh Farms). To me, it's hard to ever say which is the *best* Middle Eastern place, as its a cuisine I like so much and something where so many places please me in so many different ways. That said, I've certainly come to the conclusion that place vs place, I like Naf a lot more than Pita Inn. Pita Inn on the surface seems slightly a better value, but when you get Naf's deal with fries and a drink, the prices equal out pretty much. And I think on the salads and fries, Naf just notches up the quality a bit more. I just feel like I get more for what I pay for at Naf, and that's the definition of value, no?

    At the end of the day, I'm happy with the general quality of Naf, but the key things are the green sauce and the fries.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.

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