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Middle Eastern in Denver/Boulder

I recently moved to Denver from Washington, DC. While in DC, I was spoiled by the Lebanese Taverna food empire and, more specifically, the delicious hummus and fresh pita bread available at their deli in Arlington, VA. I'm looking for something similar here. I've tried Boulder hummus, as well as the mass produced alternatives (e.g. Tribe of Two Shieks), but they are a far cry from Lebanese Taverna. I'm mainly interested in products that can be purchased for home consumption, but I'd also love some restaurant recommendations if any come to mind. Thanks.

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  1. The only Lebanese restaurant I know about is Ali Baba (www.alibabagrill.com/index.htm) in a strip shopping center in Golden, just off CO 93, maybe half-a-mile north of the intersection w/ US 6.

    There seem to be several Middle Eastern markets around South Parker Road and Illiff. The only one I have been to is Arash -- and that was a long time ago.

    1. Beirut Grill in Englewood at 203 W. Hampden. I stumbled upon this place by accident last year and it was a fabulous find! The best hummus & falafel that I have experienced. Granted, I'm not familiar with the choices in DC and environs so my comparisons are limited. Other dishes are great, too. Nice people who run it. It's a little hard to find but I highly recommend it.

      1. There's a place called Hookah Cafe at Alameda and Downing that sources I trust say is very good. There are also a lot of Middle Eastern restos and markets around S. Colorado and Evans—Ya Hala, Damascus, and others. The former always gets voted best M.E. by the Westword (or so their sign says).

        1. Damascus Grill, on Littleton Blvd., is excellent, and in my opinion, far better than the Mid-East feast houses that line Colorado Boulevard, although the handful of Mid-East markets on Colorado Boulevard are worth seeking out, at least for their fetas and spices.

          2 Replies
          1. re: gastronaughty

            Good to know. It's not related to the same-named one on Colo.?

          2. Mumtaz in Lafayette also provides inexpensive Lebanese fare.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Charsiu

              Hmmm. Did someone report me to the Chow Polizei because I said a discouraging word about Mumtaz? One one experience there for lunch was not good. Menu looked promising but the dishes were not good. Everything tasted a little off and unusual. Took a long time to get my order, too. I would not recommend this place nor go back there.

            2. My favs are Damascus on Colorado and Beirut Grill (by the old Cinderella City on Hampden), evidently sister-restaurants. Syrian, I believe... amazing hummus. I also love Jersualems near DU... been going there since high school and can't seem to find tabouleh as good anywhere else, or chicken sharmawah sandwiches, for that matter. Don't expect good service, there though. ;)

              I've also tried Ya Hala Grill, Pita Jungle, and Kabob Station but not as impressed as the restaurants above.

              Also, Falafel King is a nice chain fall-back for good gyros fast, and they package their hummus in containers that they sell in store and at Whole Foods. A local company, Blue Moose of Boulder, makes dips including hummus that they sell in grocery stores. I even saw them at a roadshow in Costco, once. I'm not particularly fond of their hummus (too thick and cumin-y, IMHO... I prefer the airy, creamy, kind), but I like some of their other dips.

              1. I'll second Jerusalem's though I don't remember their hummus being particularly memorable. I adore the baba ganoush there though. The shaded patio is lovely on a nice afternoon.

                The place that is the most memorable for pitas to me is actually not Lebanese at all. It's Afghani. 4 or 5 years ago, the restaurant won an award for best Afghani food in Westword and then promptly fell off the map (as happens to lots of amazing restaurants not in downtown Denver). The restaurant is off of Yale and Parker Road in Aurora/Southest Denver. Based on some googling, I'm guessing this is the right address:
                11002 E Yale Ave, Aurora, CO.

                While you are there, you might look for hummus in Hahn Mart (NW corner of Parker Rd & Yale). They do diverse food (particularly fresh, cheap vegetables from around the world and uncommon brands of ethnic food) well.

                1. Duff - I might be off-base here, since you are looking for hummus that can be "purchased for home consumption." If you are of a mind to prepare your own, I found a promising recipe at http://avenuefood.com/2008/04/16/crea... . Even if it's not for you, it might appeal to some of the cooking Hounds,

                  1. Seconding Beirut Grill and Ya Hala. And also seconding Claire's suggestion that you try making your own. It's so very easy. I've posted a recipe on my blog (linked in profile; then search for hummus). I make it regularly and it's so much better (and cheaper) than what you can buy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kitt

                      If you do, Claudia Roden's an excellent source.

                      If you don't, and depending on what you mean by Middle Eastern—if you're including North Africa as well as the Arab Levant—I should've added above that Arada on Santa Fe is terrific for Ethiopian.

                    2. Phoenician Kabob just changed owners, and the food is great. The location's a total hole-in-the-wall on East Colfax and Ivy (between Colorado & Monaco), the chef is Lebanese and the new owners have Arab hospitality down to the art form it is. When we were there recently, just a few minutes after closing time a couple came in and were disappointed the kitchen had closed. The owner made their day when he sat them down and re-opened the kitchen just for them. Classy.

                      The menu is diverse and has loads of traditional dishes that you don't always find at other restaurants. There are plenty of both vegetarian and meat options. It's a little more pricey than, say, the Jerusalem on Evans, but the food is much better, and this is the kind of cafe where you could have a pleasant meal with friends, take a date, or take your parents when they're in town. The ambience is simple, nothing extraordinary; they're about to have a grand re-opening and I suspect redecorating may be part of that.

                      Everything we had was delicious--especially the meat and baba ghanouj. As for fresh pita, I think they get theirs from the Hajji Baba bakery right across the street (which I recommend for getting your own).

                      I really recommend them.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dogbuckeye

                        We went to Phoenician Kabob last night and had an excellent meal. We especially enjoyed the spinach mini pastry appetizers; the dolmas/grape leaves; the tabbouleh and the lamb shank. My husband said that he had the best lamb shank he's ever eaten in the US and he eats lamb nearly every time he sees it on a menu. The lamb came with a taste of garlic dip that was a lovely creamy texture and quite excellent. The tabbouleh reminded him of the kofta balls made by a Turkish friend in Germany decades ago and was very green, very fresh (made for each order placed) and a perfect blend of flavors. The stuffed grape leaves were made from scratch an hour before we ate there, with the grape leaves coming from a garden in the neighborhood. The owners are really friendly and the chef brought out a free dessert for us to try that wasn't in their dessert case. The dessert was excellent with a hint of rosewater, a honey bath and a mix of flaky crisp wheat flakes on top and a soft white pillowy creamy center. Did I use the word excellent more than 5 times to describe our meal?? We've eaten at Jerusalem's, Pita Jungle, Ya Hala, Felafel King, Ali Baba in Golden, and a now closed restaurant in Wheat Ridge formerly owned by the man who owns Damascus Grill in Littleton and last nights meal was definitely the best middle eastern food we've had in Denver. We do need to check out the Damascus Grill since we used to frequent his grocery store and his former restaurant in Wheat Ridge (he has long since sold both places to others and both may now be closed.) I am still dreaming about the grape leaves and tabbouleh, they were that wonderful! They are trying to get a liquor license, which may add to their appeal for some diners.

                      2. I'd also try Marakesh on Colorado Blvd. next to Damascus. They have an amazing falafel and also have some Persian dishes. Great space, unlike many of the other noted places. Try any of the meats with the toom which is a garlic paste, the same you would get at Lebanese Taverna with their amazing chicken.The cook, or at least one of them, is from Lebanon and has cooked at many of the other places mentioned here. He's a bit crazy but great.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: daddy can cook

                          I've frequented Jerusalem in the past but it was a MAJOR letdown the last time....dirty, flies everywhere and slow service. It really turned me off so I won't be eating there again. I've heard Casablanca on University is supposed to be pretty good as well as Ya Hala - both of which are on my to eat at list!

                        2. Try FelFel on Quincy at Tamarac. Semi fast food, owner is Palestinian, very nice. Clean, good food.