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(MSP) Java Restaurant- Who knew?

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On Friday, myself, DH, and my brother ate at Java Restaurant on Nicollet. My brother had insisted that the food was great, but I was skeptical. I had been there 7 or 8 years ago and did not like it. I don't know if it was a just a bad day before, but we had a great meal.

So, every restaurant has three things to consider: food, ambience, and service. I'll start with food.

We split the appetizer plate. We ordered the small which the menu states is for three people. What it doesn't state is that it is for three people not ordering anything else. The thing is huge. It comes with a large spinich pie, hummous, tabulli, baba ganoush, and 4 of the greatest falafils I've ever had.

The falafil was amazing. Little round balls of goodness. Unlike other places, they were not hard as a rock, nor were they even dry. They were sort of moist inside, but not overly so. Topped with seasame seeds, they were the best falafil I've had in the Twin Cities.

Since I was warned about the size, I only ordered the Combo Sandwich. Sandwich is a misnomer since it was so large and overflowing, I could not eat it without a fork. It was filled with lettuce (blah) and super tasty and moist gyro meat and a combo of fried veggies. It was topped with sauce (tahini?). It was excellent. The gyro meat was very good, clearly not the stuff that most gyro places pass off as good. This was actually flavorful and moist.

(On a side note, their meat is Halah)

My brother got the gyro sandwich. It was as large as mine and he loved it.

My husband got the rabbit entree. He ordered it baked (it also comes fried) in some sort of sauce. It was super tender, fall off the bone good. It had a great flavor and the sauce was good too. It came with soup- a veggie soup that was fairly plain, but good. It came with salad- iceburg lettuce with tahini- boring. And rice pilaf and pita. The pita was very good and the rice pilaf was very boring too.

DH and I also ordered some weird herbal drink that was very good. It tasted like an herbal, watered down koolaid. I like koolaid, so I really liked it.

The service was excellent. The woman checked on us many times, but wasn't annoying. The food came out all at the same time (which I realize should always happen, but rarely does on eat street.) She kept our glasses full, answered all our questions, was very pleasant.

Now, the ambience. The sign outside says the restaurant has been open since 1974. When you walk through the doors you are walking straight into 1974. It is crazy. Wood paneling on the walls, original carpet, fake leather booths. My husband states it is just like every family restaurant of his youth. This is not the place to bring your non-ironic hipster friend. But the ironic ones will love it.

Overall, the meal was very good and very inexpensive. I hope to go back soon and try more things on the menu.

(and sorry about the spellings, I know there are many mistakes)

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Java Restaurant
2801 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

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  1. Thanks for this report! I've loved the Java for years, ever since their origins as a tiny hole-in-the-wall in downtown Mpls. (I had never tasted hummos before, and I fell in love.) Java has had their ups and downs, so I'm glad to hear they're back up again.

    Me, I love the Rosa Musa (not sure of the spelling), which is a lamb shank in tomato sauce. It's so tender that it falls off the bone. Oh, and I always order the Basbusa (aka Harissa), a sweet cake made from farina.

    I think I know where I'm going for dinner.

    Anne

    3 Replies
    1. re: AnneInMpls

      Thanks for this report, it makes me inclined to give them another try. I went a couple
      of times in the 80's and found the food hyper salty. Does anyone have an opinion on
      whether that has changed? thanks

      1. re: faith

        i worked down the street maybe 7 years ago and would sometimes get a bite before work. it was not outstanding middle eastern imo but the prices were very reasonable for the large quantities of food, service was nice, and some of the veggie items were quite good. i do remember the baba ganouj being way oversalted. i think it is a good local restaurant but when i get over to that neck of the woods these days you can find me at quang. interesting that they have rabbit on the menu-- i might have to try that!

        i think java is better than falafel king (not too hard). i think shish, holy land, and beirut are better than java but they're all pretty far away. to Churchka: my fave falafels in msp are at beirut in st. paul-- you gotta try em!

        1. re: soupkitten

          Yes, and when you visit Beirut in WEST St. Paul for the falafels be sure to taste their fabulous garlic sauce. It comes with the kabobs or you can get containers of it via the takeout case. I've always liked the smoky flavor of their baba ganouj too.

    2. Good to know they've improved. I tried it when I first moved up here four years ago, and found Java to be somewhere between forgettable and wanting, both for food and for ambience.