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Dal: Afrah Pastries is good...

Yesterday evening, I was still recovering from a Sunday hangover so I decided to go to Afrah Pastries and hopefully take the cure. I had been in the mood for some Middle Eastern food for awhile and the only place I really like is Cafe Izmir but it's a little pricey and the service can be a little surly if you are not a regular.

Afrah Pastries is in an old Braum's location on Belt Line Rd in Richardson across from the Richardson Cop Shop. There were a few people eating outside but I went inside and sat down in the dining area. The place was clean and smelled great from all those exotic spices used in this type of cooking. The menu pretty much looked like what you'd expect in these kind of places with the obligatory baba ghanouj, taboouleh, hummus, falafal, schwarmas, and kebabs. I ordered the taboouleh and the lamb kebab with baba ghanouj, hummus, garlic sauce, and the usual salad that you get with these kinds of plates. It's the thing with the pickles and purple colored sticks.

The taboouleh was just okay and had way too much parsley in it for my taste. Next came the freshly baked pita which was the best I've ever had and the kebab plate. The kebab plate hit the spot. The lamb was cooked just right and the sides were all very tasty and plentiful. It hit the spot. Honestly, I could go back to this place and just eat the pita and a Mezze plate.

The service was spotty but not much different than you get in most of our ethnic Asian restos. And I knew my evening was complete when there was the a small spat between two servers in front of some customers. Ah, you never get the opportunity to see that in any chain formula restos.

Afrah Pastries
314 E Main St
Richardson, TX 75081
Phone: 972-234-9898

Don't bother going to their web site, it's totally useless. Here's the DMN blurb that got me to try this place.

http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?...

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  1. A Lebanese friend loves this place; it's the best in Dallas as far as she's concerned.

    1. As far as Shwarma (or gyro) is concerned, we think Shine's is better (Beltline and Preston). Both their beef and chicken Shwarma are really tasty (though their hummus is pretty lousy). http://www.shinesmarket.com/menu.htm

      We like Afrah's backlava (haven't tried other pastries there). In fact, we were going to get some today after lunch. Jasmine's backlava is also homemade (just a couple of blocks west of Afrah).

      1 Reply
      1. re: kuidaore

        In my house we absolutely love Shine. If the lady is cooking you MUST order the falafel. The shawarma salad is good as well, but I usually request the shawarma be served over a Greek salad instead.
        Today I found a place called Selim's Doner Kebap on beltline near May Dragon and Benedict's. The have Doner Kebaps which are like shawarma. They are served as sandwiches in their delicious pita and your choice is either chicken or veal doner, I had veal and it was very tasty. It is kind of hidden away by Inwood, but it is worth trying to find.

      2. Try the Turkish Coffee at Afrah. It's this miniature size cup of coffee with a strong hint of cardamom. You won't be disappointed !

        1 Reply
        1. re: nitlsu

          I hit Afrah last week with a buddy. I had a combo plate with lamb shish-kabob, lamd sausage, salad, hummus and pita. Everything was outstanding. I disagree, however, on the cleanliness of the place. It's not dirty, but it's not pristine either. Lots of folks hanging outside in the patio smoking hookahs at night - that was pretty interesting. Definitely worth going if you're a fan of mediteranean food - but go for the food because the decor leaves a lot to be desired.

        2. I called this place last night to ask if it was alright to bring a bottle of wine as I know that they don't serve alcohol. My inkling was right, they do not allow the consumption of alcohol. I imagine it's because of religious reasons.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Scagnetti

            Truly dissapointing. I eat there alot for lunch and think it's great and was thinking about bringing the tribe back for dinner with wine. Dangit.

          2. I went there this past weekend and wasn't too impressed with it. The service was awful. The food was ok. The chicken and beef shwarmas were so dry and lacked seasoning. And the hummus was bland as well.

            9 Replies
            1. re: dvp05

              I've never been there during the weekend so I can't speak to any service problems when it is crowded. Keep in mind, the patronage at this resto is heavily Middle Eastern and the staff's informality in its approach to service and the customers reflects that.

              I'd be interested to know where in Dallas you go for Middle Eastern food that is better than Afrah? I've been to most and none of them standout.

              By the way, as hummus seldom as more than a few ingredients in it, it doesn't lend itself to a "wow" factor. It's like saying traditional mashed potatoes are bland because they are bland.

              1. re: Scagnetti

                Been to Sheik's yet? Downtown Plano. Very generous servings, the shawarma was moist and well seasoned, raw kibbe was awesome, tabbouleh was good once, little salty the second time. I don't bother getting hummus out.

                  1. re: luniz

                    Met my dad at Sheik's for lunch today. The owner is Lebanese and all meats are Halal. I overheard a patron there for the first time - also from Lebanon - who said the chef's shwarma was outstanding.

                    I ordered the Mazza plate. The hummus was very good and traditional and the baba ganoush was one of the best I've had in a while. Tabouli salad was also fantastic. Many places just drown it in oil, but this one was light and refreshing. It was not too salty on my trip. Dolmas were freshly made and warm. I prefer the kind with meat and served cold, but these were good.

                    My father ordered the lamb kabob, but when I had a bite, it tasted like beef. Either way, it was very juicy and tender. He loved it.

                    Overall a good meal. My dad said he was going to add it to his list of lunch spots. Only downside for me - The bread was thinner than normal pita which I liked, but it was served cold (in plastic bags?) and to me was lacking in flavor. Also, the Baklava was served ice cold and had that "fridge" taste to them.

                    1. re: Webra1

                      We went to Ali Baba's for lunch at the new location (formerly Rasoi) in Richardson today. The food is even better than when they were at the last location (currently occupied by Bukhara) and their buffet offers more items at the bigger space. And the place was packed.

                      Their rotisserie chicken (by the pita bread) is a must! So is their fried califlower. It's probably the best califlower I've ever had in my life. The lentil soup was very good (I normally don't like lentil soup). I'm not big on baba ganoush, but theirs is probably the best I've ever had. And of course, their hummus is as good as ever!

                      1. re: Webra1

                        We went to Sheik's today. We thought the food was terrible except Arayas (ground lamb between grilled pita bread) and french fries. The hummus and baba ganoush were too sour and salty. My companion (David) thought the chicken shawarma was dry and tasteless (he really hated it). The beef (or lamb?) shawarma wasn't ready yet. My Arabic tea was a Lipton tea bag!!!

                        There were only two customers at Sheik's when we left a little after 12. Ali Baba's is packed between 12-1pm--you have to wait to be seated and also fight for the rotisserie chicken

                        We don't like Afrah, either (except for baklava), but Afrah is better than Sheik's. Neither place compares to Ali Baba's. For shawarma, Shine's is the best in town! luniz, you should really try it! (It's a Turkish-Argentinean version.)

                        BTW, has anyone tried Oasis Palace, another new Middle Eastern buffet in E. Richardson (on Spring Valley)?

                        1. re: kuidaore

                          That does it. I'm not going to try Sheik's but instead I'm going to Ali Baba.

                          1. re: Scagnetti

                            Sheik's is more of a fast-food setting. The lunch combo is $7.25 or $7.75, but with two appetizers and two drinks we ended up paying over $30. (I think most dinner entrees are over $10.) Ali Baba's buffet is only like $11 incl. a soft drink.

                    2. re: Scagnetti

                      I'm sure it's not made the traditional way, but the hummus at Eatzi's is very good. It's extremely creamy with a good punch of garlic and lemon, although it's lacking in a good strong sesame flavor.

                  2. We stopped by Afrah to pick up Baklava tonight (we go there just for Baklava). They remodeled and now serve buffet lunch.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: kuidaore

                      I went to afrah and asked for baklava. It was pistachios in rolled phyllo dough. It was good, but it wasn't dense and there was no honey or spice. Is this the baklava you like so much or is it something else?

                      1. re: kindofabigdeal

                        There are three kinds they make and we like the squre one with pistachios most. I don't think I've ever had baklava with honey at an Arabic or Persian restaurant. Baklava is usually served with honey/syrup at Greek restaurants and we hate it! You probably have a sweeter tooth than we do (We found the bread pudding at Bukuhara too sweet. We loved the bread pudding at Don Panza--not sweet at all, more European style.) luniz, do you eat baklava with honey?

                        1. re: kuidaore

                          This is true. I spent some time in Greece, so my idea of mediterranean food is sort of hellenistic I guess. I don't like it with a plain syrup, but I love honey.

                          1. re: kindofabigdeal

                            I like the Greek version of pita bread and dolmas better than the Arabic version.

                            luniz might be able to make us baklava based on his mom's recipe. Can't wait!

                            1. re: kuidaore

                              I went back and was more specific as to what I wanted (layered, not rolled) and was very pleased. As mentioned above I like the honey drenched version more, but that may be because the drier ones I've had have lacked flavor. The pistachios were flavorful and the phyllo was rich and buttery, but not greasy.

                              1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                We like the walnut one better now. For a couple of days, they were out of pistachio and we had to buy walnut and since then, we only buy walnut.

                                Lewisville also thinks Afrah's baklava is the best in town.

                                You should also try luniz' homemade version (walnut). His is lighter and thinner, but equally good!

                                1. re: kuidaore

                                  Trying to decide whether to go to Afrah for date night tonight or to Caribbean Grill at Preston/121. Both sound great, but I'm wondering (since Richardson is a little behind on the "no smoking" in restaurants ordinance) - is Afrah smoking or non-smoking?
                                  We ate at Paradise Mediterranean on Polk in Richardson. While the food was very good it was hard to enjoy because of the smoke.

                                  1. re: lbelle

                                    Afrah is non smoking insdie but hookah/cigarette smokign is aloud on the patio...tonight would be a great evening for the patio. I have hardly seen a person smoking cigarettes on the patio though. And the hookah smoke doesn't bother me as most are flavored. The options are going to be slim on the menu but well prepared! I would suggest the hummus or baba ganouj (sp?) and pita, kibbe, and the shwarma plate. My wife and I eat there quite often and that is usually what we get.

                                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                      Thanks for the info!
                                      Gonna be pretty hard to get the hubby away from chicken kabobs (i.e., not too adventurous and he's liked them elsewhere). Hope they're good as well!

                                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                        Have you been since they started the buffet? It was OK (not a big buffet fan) but now I'm not sure if I can order off the old menu still.

                                        1. re: Chile Pepper

                                          Went last night - they did not have a buffet but had a sign for Easter buffet. We ordered the small meat pie, the small spinach pie, lentil soup, falafel, and swish tawook (chicken kabob) off the menu.

                                          1. re: lbelle

                                            I think they have the buffet every day at lunch unless something has changed. But I'm really glad to hear they have the old menu still.
                                            Thanks for your answer!

                                            1. re: Chile Pepper

                                              I think their buffet is for lunch only and they still have the same menu.

                                              1. re: kuidaore

                                                yep lunch only. I ate there last night. The pita bread was outstanding. Baklava passed muster too, no honey (that I could detect). They even dusted the top with a little pistachio dust which I thought was kinda nice. Only wish the meat pies were more like mom makes 'em :)

                                                1. re: luniz

                                                  As do I....btw when is your parents coming to town again? Trade meat pies and perhaps a box of paczkis from the Motor City for BBQ and Tex-Mex? j/k....The pita at Afrah is by far the best!

                                                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                                    I'll probably try to learn the recipe but it's hard to make, if it's too hot or humid the dough won't rise. But if they were a bit bigger than the small and had some pine nuts in there with the meat...oh man I'm getting hungry already. I also got some meat&spinach pies from Sheik's this week, which were good but they do this weird thing which is to deep fry them for a minute before they serve 'em. I think I like them the regular way better, it's gotta be healthier (not that scarfing down half a dozen is healthy anyway). But my mom is already talking about coming back down and telling me to pick out more restaurants o.O

                      2. Been there a handful of times now. The kebabs are great, and incredibly good for the price. Shawarma is nothing special. Pastries are good to excellent. Nice to sit outside on a pleasant day.

                        1. The lentil soup is fantastic... so is the akawi pie.