Babalou Mediterranean, Walnut Creek
This small, newish cafe is located next to McCovey's Restaurant on Bonanza St, formerly a Quiznos. It has a colorful sign, which attracted us to it, plus the fact that we had no reservations to anywhere on a Saturday night. There was just one table of six in there at 6:45. You order at the counter and they bring the meal to your table. There is lamb on the spit (shawarma) and chicken shawarma too. Combo platters of shawarma, kebabs, or falafel come with rice and 2 choices of sides, such as baba ghanoush, hummus, Greek salad, tabouleh, dolmas, and several other choices. You can get tastes of these before you order. All the sides are displayed in the glass case. They also have desserts, but we couldn't get to them.
The meats are tasty and portions are plentiful, but the sides were the best thing about this place. We tried the hummus, which came with warm pita, baba ghanoush and dolmas, all of which were excellent, but the baba ghanoush in particular impressed me. It had a smoky, sweet flavor that set it apart from others I have tasted (not that my experience is all that broad, so cannot say if that is authentic). The dolmas also were some of the best I have ever had, fresh and moist with just enough lemon piquancy. After trying a bite, my daughter asked for the entire thing, and she never cared for dolmas before.
The fellow/manager behind the counter is very friendly and accommodating. We couldn't finish our meals and packed the leftovers up for lunch the next day. The walls are painted with colorful figures, some middle eastern, some not in a whimsical fashion, which made it amusing while we waited for our food. Service was swift, as we were ahead of the dinner rush. The nice thing to see was more customers came in while we were there.
Apparently, this is a sister store to The Mediterranean out in Concord.
1645 Bonanza St.
This place is great, a fantastic addition to an area that has many mediocre restaurants. The shawarma was a carbon copy of the great one up at The Mediterranean. The guy behind the counter was also handing out samples right and left. The best of those that I tried was the bakdonsieh -- a lemony cucumber salad. Highly recommended. The fool salad was also quite good.