Middle Eastern flavors have long been a rich vein mined by chefs working in any number of styles. And Middle Eastern restaurants — whether of the wheeled or brick-and-mortar variety — have been a staple on the Philly scene for decades. But while you might think there’s nothing to this cuisine beyond chickpeas and falafel, here are six places that will prove you wrong.
This evening, Soom Foods, the Philadelphia-based, women-owned business of three sisters— Shelby, Jackie and Amy is going to be in the food cart at the Garage on Passyunk Avenue. They will be serving a Middle Eastern street food menu of dishes like sabich, a traditional eggplant pita sandwich and a spiced lamb dish. All dishes will feature Soom Foods Tahini and for dessert, they’ll be offering samples of their Chocolate Sesame Butter, which they are describing as similar to Nutella with only three ingredients and only seven grams of sugar.
The event kicks off at 6 p.m. and runs till the food runs out.
The Garage [Foobooz]
Today marks the opening of Hummus Grill’s Center City location at 212 S 11th Street. The winner of Best of Philly’s 2012 shawarma platter had one last delay in opening this week. a truck hit an exhaust fan which forced them to get a new evaporator and condenser for the walk-in fridge.
But with that issue behind them, it’s falafel, shawarma and kabobs for everyone.
Hummus Grill [Official Site]
Saturday, the Vendy Awards were once again held in Philadelphia. The event brought hundreds to Penn Treaty Park where nominated food trucks competed for four awards, including savory, sweet, “Messy Yet Tasty” and the Vendy Cup.
King of Falafel, which you can find daily at 16th and JFK Boulevard won the big award. Lil’ Pop Shop repeated as the winner of the sweet category and The Cow & the Curd brought home the savory award as well as the Tide stain stick’s “Messy Yet Tasty” award.
Tonight, Old Eagle Tavern in Manayunk will be hosting Mazen Hajjar, the brewer and owner of 961 Beer, claim to be the first and only microbrewery located in the Middle East. Hajjar will be on hand during happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m.
After a year long run as Crisp, the falafel spot at 18th and Ludlow is rebranding itself as Grillicious. And that’s not the only change as the fast-serve spot is now offering some non-vegetarian options.
The new menu offers flatbread sandwiches (gone is the orignal pita), salads, hummus bowls and an angus burger.
The new Grillicious is under the same ownership and opens to the public tomorrow, Tuesday, November 20th.
Now that fall has officially fallen, Aksum Mediterranean Kitchen is rolling out a new menu to match. Featuring seasonal changes to both the dinner and brunch menus. Aksum is welcoming autumn with full force and Eastern Mediterranean flair.The dinner and lunch menu boasts new appetizers like the Wild Mushroom Bisque and the Roasted Beet Salad, which will certainly kick your meal off to a hearty start. New entrées like Tender Braised Lamb Shank and Grilled Seitan with herb and wild mushroom faro have been added to the menu. End your meal with Carrot Cake or some Oreo Beignets.
View The World on Your Doorstep in a larger map
In the magazine’s January issue on food neighborhoods we also highlight neighborhoods in Philadelphia for the best ethnic foods. From Injera and Kitfo to Baklava, Tom Kha and Tempeh, here’s where to score Philadelphia’s best ethnic dishes.
Check out our accompanying Google Map where there is much more detail on each Indian restaurant, Vietnamese spot and ethnic grocery mentioned.
World at Your Doorstep [Google Maps]
A reader tips us off that Al Zaytouna, the Middle Eastern restaurant next to Sabrina’s on Christian Street has been slapped with a big old Cease Operations placard.
From the details on the candy-striped sign, Al Zaytouna is accused of operating without the proper licenses for food prep and outdoor dining.
Adam Erace takes in Manakeesh, the Lebanese bakery and cafe at 45th and Walnut. He finds everything you would want in a neighborhood cafe plus Lebanese bites including the manakeesh, a Middle Eastern flatbread sandwich.
The manakeesh options roll 21 deep here, and after three trips, the vegetarian varieties get my vote. The 700-degree dome lures out a woodsy aroma of thyme in a za’atar-covered manakeesh, and lifting that still-warm flatbread to your mug is like catching a whiff of a forest fire. (Sesame and sumac join the herb in the spice blend, the latter accounting for the lemony wallop resounding across the palate.) Topped with feta and akawi, a Middle Eastern fromage that calls to mind queso fresco, the cheese manakeesh is good and salty on its own, but better as a “Combo” (half za’atar). I also dug the “Kishk,” a crushed tomato/cracked wheat/fresh yogurt tang factory as refreshing as citron sorbet.