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Wafa's Mediterranean in Forest Hills

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Just wanted to say that I tried this new place in Forest Hills, just north of Metropolitan Avenue called Wafa's Authentic Mediterranean Food. It is a Takeout & Catering place with excellent freshly prepared food on the cheap. Nothing on it's menu is over $8..

They have soups(Split Pea and Chicken), Tabouleh, Hummus, Babaganoush, Mousabaha and three types of pies (Meat, Cheese and Spinach) and along with Falafel, Chicken or Lamb Shawerma and Kibbe. Desserts include Baklava and Rice Pudding.

I wanted to post this because it is slightly off the beaten path (Metropolitan Avenue) at 96-08 72nd Avenue.. Not sure of the hours but the # 718-263-2757.

The quality of the food is great and the prices are probably this low because they just starting out and the location. I highly recommend dropping in and trying some of their delicious take out.

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  1. A friend also recommended last week, and we just got some eggplant chickpea salad to go, and some spinach triangles (similar to the ones I get from Ararat on the LIE service road near springfield blvd) --both very good. Prices good, and yes, you would miss it, if you didn't know it was there. Only 2 small tables in the place, it's really a takeout joint. Lady who owns it, chatty and nice. She's Lebanese by the way.

    1 Reply
    1. re: janie

      I also had a really nice experience getting take out at Wafa's last week. Special of the day was stuffed cabbage which was delicious. The owner was incredibly sweet and let me try a sampling of several dishes.

    2. They have some interesting items, and the hummus is better than the usual. I think it is on par with the best places on Atlantic ave in Bklyn (like bedouin tent).

      However that pre-made pita has to go. Nothing makes or breaks this food like the bread. Fresh is the only way.

      1 Reply
      1. re: NYJewboy

        Bravo Wafa! We have eaten there twice in the past month and find the food lovingly prepared and delicious. My favorites are the grape leaves and the lentils. We bring our own wine and just keep ordering until we're full. Very very reasonable. There's only two small tables but it's not been discovered yet so its safe to say you'll get one of them.

      2. I just had some grape leaves, hummus and okra from Wafa's; all delicious. However, I am baffled. The owner told me she switched the pita bread and promised me I'd like the new pita better....I'm sorry to say it is almost as bad. Is it really that hard to purchase soft flat bread? It would make Wafa's much more appealing for me.

        9 Replies
        1. re: NicoleFriedman

          The food is great. Hands down. As to the pita question, it's a small space and from what I've seen, no place for a pita oven. And I can't imagine how she'd put one in there, not to mention the cost of installation and the permit process. I agree that great pita can add to the experience, but give her a break. Besides, her food is so good that it almost doesn't matter. Wonder Bread would work. Maybe she could get some pitas delivered from Bedouin Tent in Brooklyn. That would be a match made in heaven as I think her food is actually better.

          1. re: waitomo

            Their pita might be not the greatest., but I can forgive and forget when it comes out wrapped around fresh-made falafel balls with tahini, lots of red onion and fresh herbs. I really dig their falafel and a side of grains and lentils (which I think is best with a drop of a freshly-squeezed lemon juice--just ask). The okra dish is heavenly too, but I am a sucker for Middle Eastern okra.

            The food is great. Given the price, it's a pearl in the dirt. My understangding is, a bad pita is just an economy thingy.

            1. re: diprey

              The pita thing may be related to the economy, but I know that her landlord hasn't been willing to let her install the type of cooking equipment she could really use. She's using a residential range which doesn't get the kind of heat she needs to cook her food properly, and while it's tasty as is, I'm sure it would be even tastier if she could really sear off her chicken, for example. So, unless she leaves that space - which is as tied to the economy as much as the pita situation - she's probably not going to be serving up fresh pitas or the quality of foods she's capable of turning out. It's a shame.

              1. re: Greg

                She should have taken that space that Casa De Elian vacated. I gave her the names of both Queens Pita on Flushing and Ararat Pita (lebanese fresh pita place)--perhaps she doesn't meet their quanitites for a daily delivery. At best, she would be better to use the pita down the street from Trader Joes than the stuff she is using. She could also get the pita from a good supplier and freeze it, and just defrost it daily, still better than the bland cardboard stuff she is using.

                And yes, while the economy make it difficult for her to grow her business right now, I do think she is doing okay, and getting good support from the community. I know that we do takeout at least several times a week.

            2. re: waitomo

              I wasn't suggesting that she bake her own pita. Rather, simply to purchase a better pita bread from another vendor. Even Tower Diner has better pita bread. This does not mean I won't eat her food; it just puzzles me why she'd choose such a dry, unappetizing bread when there are certainly other options.

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              Tower Diner
              98-95 Queens Blvd, Queens, NY 11374

              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                Hi NicoleFriedman,

                There are so many consistently delicious items at Wafa's (the okra, the moussaka, the fatoosh - when available, the schwarma, the babaganoush, the hummus, etc.) that, for me, the pita isn't something I really think about. And, I really don't think it's that bad. Perhaps it just pales so drastically in comparison to everything else.

                Anyway, I'm glad to hear that it doesn't prevent you from eating at this tiny yet wonderful little gem of a restaurant. And, I suppose you could always smuggle in your own pita to make your experience there more enjoyable if you so desire.

                Ciao,

                Glendale is hungry...

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                Wafa's
                100-05 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

                1. re: Glendale is hungry

                  If you've read my other posts on Wafa's, you'd see that I wholeheartedly agree with you about her other offerings. I love her okra especially as well as the bulghar. I understand that the bread is not the most important item to many people when looking for good Mid Eastern. However, for myself, having Mid Eastern food without good bread is very important, especially when there are other options that are a lot closer to me. The reason being is that I could happily live on hummus, great bread and olive oil for months without anything else. This is obviously my own personal preference. I've posted on CH about her store because I'm hoping that eventually she will make a change. In the meantime though, I would still recommend her store and I do plan to take my husband there when we're in the area. I just won't go when I'm craving my bread and hummus.

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                  Wafa's
                  100-05 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

                  1. re: NicoleFriedman

                    I actually like her bread...more than the bread I've had in other middle eastern places.

                    1. re: EricMM

                      Like, really?
                      I was thinking, what would happen if everyone decided to BYOB (meaning, bread). When I stroll down Steinway St, I see so many appetizing pitas on the sidewalk. ;-)

          2. In the interest of getting the word out about Wafa's, I am posting here the same review I posted on Yelp a little over a week ago, when I first tried it:

            After reading about Wafa's on the web, my buddy and I tried it tonight. It is every bit as good as the hype. I eat Middle Eastern food as often as I can (and have traveled in the Middle East) and am always searching for the best, freshest, most authentic preparations I can find. Here's my quick take on some of what we tried at Wafa's:

            Hummus -- As creamy in texture as I've had anywhere, obviously homemade and extremely fresh and delicious. Chick peas are front and center, as they should be (but too often are not), supported and not overwhelmed by the other ingredients (a bit of olive oil, paprika, and lemon and garlic, though the latter are subtle). I agree with the other posts -- once you taste Wafa's hummus, you realize how vastly superior it is to even the better supermarket brands. My dining mate was shoveling it into his mouth without any restraint or dignity.

            Falafel -- Different from, but equal to, the best falafel I've had in the NY area, at Tanoreen in Bay Ridge. Tanoreen is Palestinian-style, larger balls, a bit crispier and fragrantly spiced. Wafa's falafel is still crisped on the outside but moister within and a bit sweeter and simpler than Tanoreen's ("simpler" is not a criticism -- it's utterly delicious). It is supple in the mouth and combines perfectly with the tahini and pickled veggies. I'll be going back for it often.

            Babaganoush -- Again, just superb. Many babas are over-smoked and actually need pita to cut their intensity a bit. Wafa's is perfectly balanced, rich without being too strong... I enjoyed it all by itself, no pita needed.

            Grape leaves -- Literally perfect. I have had grape leaves in restaurants in the Middle East and, on a few occasions, home-cooked. These were spot on, in taste and consistency.

            Actually, I would say outstanding consistency was a common feature of everything we ate. Each item felt intensely pleasing in the mouth, like skillfully home-cooked food served just when ready.

            This held true for the baklava, which is also as good as I've had anywhere. I rarely order baklava because I find it cloying, usually because it's drowning in honey. This baklava had honey only on the inside, where it blended with and brought out the nuttiness of the filling instead of overpowering it. And it veers in a delightful direction as rosewater and orange peel flavors emerge at the end of each bite.

            I have to admit, I'm a little embarrassed that my review is so over the top, but I cannot recommend this place highly enough. What a great addition to the local dining scene, and so cheap!

            ADDENDUM: I notice some complaints in this thread about the pitas, and it's true they're just ordinary, store-bought pitas. However, I think it's a little pretentious for people to claim that she needs to bake her own pitas or the food is ruined, etc. Tanoreen (of Bay Ridge), a highly acclaimed Middle Eastern restaurant (and deservedly so), also serves plain white pitas (there are other bread options there, but the default pitas are the same as Wafa's). So do plenty of other places. I don't disagree that there is good pita to be found out there, and I enjoy it as the much as the next Middle Eastern food nut.... but frankly, the baba, hummus, et al. are so good at Wafa's, I don't even notice the pita.

            7 Replies
            1. re: kalmanbh

              the spinach and meat pies are great, too, if you haven't had them. Disagree with you though on the pita, there are many better options, not only freshly delivered, but also packaged. The bulgher is very good there, too. The falafel is not my style of falafel, but yes, it is not greasy or heavy. I prefer it green, moist and more dense inside. Her tabouleh is wonderful.

              1. re: janie

                Finally tried Wafa's for lunch. Excellent! I am not normally a big fan of Middle eastern food, but this stuff was great. We had the lamb shawarma...interesting spicing...and a platter with hummus, falafel, and babaganoush. Couldn't resist getting tabbouleh and the grape leaves also. I have to agree with everything that people said about the food above...except for the bread. Maybe I lucked out, but I thought the bread was excellent..softer and moister than the dry pita's I seem to get everywhere else. Wafa herself is so sweet and helpful, and I was thrilled to find out that they deliver to my area.

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                Wafa's
                100-05 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

                1. re: EricMM

                  My humble advice to anyone new to Wafa's or MedT food, fwiw. If you are unsure of what you might want/like don't hesitate to talk to her: she knows her stuff and she has a very good taste indeed! I know the MiddleE cuisine like my own palm, yet I still remember her telling me, somewhat hastingly and forcefully (as much like an artist in the flow): so you said you like Middle Eastern food? now, you' re gonna have the best falafel you've ever tasted! by the way, do you want extra red onions? :)))) The falafel wrap was heavenly, never mind the pita...

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                  Wafa's
                  100-05 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

                  1. re: diprey

                    Does she serve toum? Garlic sauce. Her food does sound fantastic, can one travel her by subway/bus though?

                    1. re: deabot

                      I just went there for the first time last night and the food was pretty spectacular.

                      We tried the tabbouleh, babaganoush, kibbe and chicken shawarma. I could live in this place.

                      There have been some complaints in this thread about the pita but I don't agree. I do, however, view the pita only as a supporting player - not as the featured thing.

                      I didn't see "toum" on the menu but when you go be sure to ask. The owner and assistant are extremely nice.

                      As for subways, the E, F, R, and the V all stop at 71st Ave/Continental. From there it's about a 15 block walk south to Metropolitan Ave. Go one block east then half a block back north and you're there on 72nd Ave. For buses, according to the MTA map it looks as though there are the Q54, the Q23 and the QM12 though I've never ridden any of these myself.

                      It's well worth the trip. (wish Wafa's was closer to me!)

                      Ciao!

                      Glendale is hungry...

                      1. re: Glendale is hungry

                        Thanks for the report back...I will try and make a go of it one of these days!

                        1. re: Glendale is hungry

                          I've taken the bus. It's pretty easy. It stops in front of the vitamin shoppe/perfumia area on 71st Continental. It goes straight through the gardens to metropolitan ave -about a 10 min bus ride.

              2. it certainly is hard to find, it is located on a side street off metro, the location isnt that great but the food is...

                1 Reply
                1. re: norah_j

                  I stopped by Wafa's yesterday, made a special trip since I've been craving good Lebanese food. It really was phenomenal. I just got a fattoush salad and a cheese pie to try for the first time since I usually judge Lebanese restaurants by their fattoush. It was excellent with less lettuce than the ones I had gotten used to in Dearborn, MI (home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans) but it had all the right ingredients and the dressing was delicious with just the right amount of lemon juice and sumac powder. The cheese pie was different from others I have encountered but very good particularly with the addition of onions and a little bit of spinach/greens. After I got done eating, Wafa gave me a freshly made grape leaf to try and it was literally the best I have had. It was warm and tender and was quite tart which I love in grape leaves.
                  I will definitely be going back to try everything else. I work in Jamaica and live in Jackson Heights but I can see myself taking the extra long way home at least once a week to get food from Wafa's. After moving here from Dearborn, MI; I despaired of finding really good Lebanese food in Queens (yes I know about the Arabic restaurants in Astoria but hadn't found anything close to a substitute) but Wafa's is definitely an excellent substitute for all the food I've been missing and in some cases (the fattoush) better.

                2. If this is the same Wafa who used to own the Waterfalls restaurant on Atlantic Avenue, then I can certainly believe the food in her place is excellent. Except for the pita - and that wasn't anything special at Waterfalls either, store-bought and heated up rather than fresh-made. Glad to know that she's still cooking up the good stuff, if indeed it's her, though Forest Hills is far off my usual tracks.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: armagnac

                    Try it... give her a chance; why won't you do it just once? It's just a block away from a major road, Metropolitan Ave. They have a daily special, fish and rice, on Fridays: why won't you give her a call to make sure? ;)
                    Agree with Tara: her food is up to the standards of Dearborn, MI, which is, IMHO, a very high praise for any Arabic/Middle Eastern restaurant here in the States.

                    1. re: armagnac

                      It isn't. This is her first restaurant.

                      1. re: sd187

                        just a reminder for anyone heading out to Forest Hills for a special trip--Wafa's is closed for vacation from today 4-12-10 to 4-29-10

                        1. re: janie

                          Fantastic stuffed cabbage at Wafa's today--chicken pies, spinach pies and cheese pies, terrific, too....

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                          Wafa's
                          100-05 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

                          1. re: janie

                            And okra, too... :-)

                            1. re: diprey11

                              i was forced to eat okra as a kid--and have a serious aversion to it--but yes, it does look good...also, eggplant with chickpeas--going now to finish up my takeout...

                            2. re: janie

                              Finally tried Wafa's for dinner last night: had the veg combo ($9.95 for three items), which included the moujadara (bulgur wheat with lentils and caramelized onions), hummus and fattoush salad (with one falafel ball thrown in). Also had the spinach fatayer ($1.50). Everything was very well flavored and super delicious. The pita was thin, warm and tasty. Their homemade hot sauce added a nice amount of heat, and I'm enjoying two more spinach fatayer today for lunch.

                              Overall, a delicious experience that I look forward to having again and again.

                              -----
                              Wafa's
                              100-05 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375