Mawadda Cafe (SEA)
Tried this Iraqi-owned middle eastern place last night, located on Graham St. just west of Rainier Ave.
The kufta sandwich was quite good; meat seasoned with fresh green herbs and spices, with a very enticing yogurt-based sauce. I appreciated the additon of cucumber to the ubiquitous lettuce, tomato and onion, and the toasting of the pita wrap The gyro sandwich was well above average--same dressing and garnish as the kufta. Having an actual gyro spit is a big step up from the many places in the city that shamelessly serve frozen strips of meat. Fries were overcooked.
Not mind-blowing but very competent middle eastern fare, much needed in these parts. Will return for the shwarma, the handful of flaky pastry sweets (baklava and the more unusual burma, basma, etc.) and the vegetarian plate, which includes sambusa, apparently in the Somali fashion (there is a Somali market next door).
Mawadda Cafe (Rainier Valley). 4433 S Graham St Seattle, WA 98118 (206) 760-0911. Hours: Daily 10 am-10 pm
Mawadda today was a Sultani plate: kebabs of beautifully marinated medium-rare lamb (properly to-order), nicely charred and seasoned chicken, and a band of Kufta (seasoned ground lamb and beef). The vegetarian plate had fluffy, nutty falafel, real dolmades (for a change), chopped salad with cucumber and garlic dressing, and sambusa (a nod to the Somali grocery next door?). Well-prepared and presented from start to finish.
I enjoyed the food the few times I've eaten here. My husband and I would eat there all the time as we love this type of food and its very close to our house, except for how long its taken to get our food each time we've gone. Even when we've thought to call in the order it takes forever: they tell us "half an hour" so we wait 45 minutes to be sure, then go down there to pick up and still have to wait 15-20 minutes at the restaurant.
The owner explains to people waiting for their food that its not a fast food restaurant, that he serves only quality real food. But I'm just wondering why he doesn't hire a second cook??!? That would allow him to process a couple orders at once and still give each one the time he wants to go into each order. Each time I've been there have been multiple people/parties waiting for food, it seems like an obvious solution.
Not sure what I would consider to be "mind blowing" middle eastern but I sure do know what the worst tastes like. We hit Mawadda in early summer ---during the time of the tomato scare--and liked it very much. As I recall, the cucumber sauce was nice and garlicy. My husband particularly enjoyed that the owner gave him the option of having his lamb with or without tomato [we went for "with"--death be damned!]
The one thing about our visit was that the service was a bit slower than I expected. I attribute this to the fact that Mawadda is NOT a fast food place---when you order, they make it. So nothing is sitting around on a steam table waiting for a buyer. This makes for tasty food but it can take a while for things to come out and one needs to allow for this.
The sweets were very tasty.
oh and thats the market that I thought I'd seen tamarind at........
I returned and had the vegetarian plate and one of the sweets. The falafel was excellent, perfectly crisped and set apart by sweet spice that couldn't quite be placed; the owner is very proud, claiming it is the best falafel in the state. The sambusa was quite good; the grape leaves very standard. I again enjoyed the garlic strength in the white sauce. The dessert (basma I think) was very tasty, and on this drizzly night he offered complimentary small cups of robust chai. As a bonus, the food came out more quickly than before.
I like this joint.
Thanks for the props; maybe I'll do a South End Greatest Hits post one of these days.
It's remarkable how many people I meet--even those that live in Seattle--that have never even heard of Columbia City or Seward Park. I think it speaks to the historical de facto segregation of the city, and its probably fair to assume that the majority of foodie types and local CH participants are generally not living in, or even visiting, the south.
To be fair, I grew up the eastside and lived in N. Seattle for five years. I can't pretend to be an OG southender, but I am loving it now. But regardless of where I live, I would never expect to find much of anything new and intersting if I never left my hood to explore.