Food

7 Fast Casual Middle Eastern Dishes to Eat in Philly Right Now

The Middle Eastern culinary revolution has taken over the quick-serve world.


fast casual middle eastern

Fast casual Middle Eastern dishes to try around Philly. Photograph by Michael Persico

Nowhere has the Middle Eastern culinary revolution been more visible than in the quick-serve world. (Bonus: It’s fresh and pretty healthy.) Here, what to order where.

1. Falafel sandwich and tehina milkshake from Goldie

It’s stuffed with cabbage and Israeli salad — chopped tomatoes, cukes, other crunchy stuff — and you should pile on all the spicy and sweet condiments it comes with. The Turkish coffee tehina milkshake is a truly original, belongs-in-some-Food-Hall-of-Fame concoction (not surprising, given this is a Michael Solomonov joint). Multiple locations.

2. Za’atar chicken dinner from Dizengoff

Feed the crew: a whole roasted chicken, spiced up with za’atar, packaged with pints of hummus and chopped salad and enough pita for everyone, for just $36. Takeout only. Ordering 24 hours in advance is ideal but not necessary; just expect to wait. 1625 Sansom Street, Center City, and Whole Foods, 2101 Pennsylvania Avenue, Fairmount.

3. Egyptian fried chicken and kushari from Ka’Moon

Boneless chicken is marinated in a secret blend of spices, dipped and dredged in flour, and then crisped up. Ask for it on the kushari bowl, a traditional mix of lentils, chickpeas, rice and elbow macaroni topped with all kinds of sweet and tangy sauces. The Bourse, 111 South Independence Mall, Old City.

4. Beef hummus from Hey Hummus

This homegrown quickie spot has a simple menu. Line your bowl of creamy (kosher, fresh-made) hummus with a scoop of the deeply spiced, soul-warming ground beef. 2101 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse.

5. Schwarma platter with plenty of hot sauce from The Halal Guys

The meat is thin-sliced and insanely flavorful, but this New York original (it started as a cabbie cart) is known for its sauces, which come in both red and white. You’ll get two packs with your platter, but if you want to pick up one of the 16-ounce pouches of the white one to go, no judgment here. They make ’em for a reason. Multiple locations.

6. Chicken kebab plate and Naf fries from Naf Naf Grill

Sure, you’re getting seasoned chunks of grilled white-meat chicken. But that’s kinda like the icing on the cake. There’s also fluffy rice, hummus, a bunch of chopped and dressed veggies, a few falafel and a handmade pita. (Ignore what your brain is signaling: you’ve still got room for the chip-like fries.) Multiple locations.

7. Vegetarian combo and fries from Mamoun’s Falafel

The combo plate at this NYC export starts with falafel, hummus and baba ghanoush, and you go from there. Add some tabbouleh, grape leaves, maybe some foul, and brighten it up with a briny salad of pickles and olives. Wash it all down with a mint lemonade, and fries (because you should treat yourself for eating all those veggies). 300 Market Street, Old City.

Published as “Middle Feast” in the May 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.