Above-average Middle Eastern in a Loyola-area storefront.
Dont be put off by the shabby-unchic decor: the food at this BYO double storefront outclasses the setting. Besides well-balanced hummus, lightly smoky baba ghanoush, and grape leaves stuffed with nicely seasoned rice, cold appetizers included thick, smooth labenah, sour cream available plain, with green onions, or dotted with black olives and enriched with olive oil. Of the warm choices, we preferred maklouba, a melange of sauteed eggplant, smoky-brown cauliflower, thin potato slices, carrots, and beef (or chicken), with rice that soaked up all the juices. Id return to try musakhan, a variation on a chicken wrap, and the lamb shanks, which were unavailable when I visited. Theyd also run out of hareca, but another unusual dessert, spherical coconut-dusted kakaw, was a satisfying, not-too-sweet cross between candy and moist cake. Perfumy cinnamon-scented tea, offered when we arrived, was a blend of Liptons and herbal, according to a friendly server. A lunch special offers a choice of three schawarma plates served with rice, salad, and hummus for $7.99.
— Anne Spiselman
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