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Middle Eastern for dinner

Pregnant and craving middle eastern food. Looking for recs for a dinner spot, doesn't have to be anywhere in particular. Will travel anywhere in the Boston area. Good lamb, and hummus, would be great, but also interested in trying something new. Dive-y spots are a bonus. Thanks!

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  1. Demo's in Watertown. Not sure about hummus, but good lamb skewers. Certainly divey, in it's own way.

    3 Replies
    1. re: newhound

      Demos is Greek, not Middle Eastern.

      Garlic & Lemons and Boston Kebab Company are around the corner from each other in Allston, and get roughly equal amounts of my dining budget. But if you're specifically hungry for lamb, Boston Kebab Company is the better bet.

      1. re: newhound

        @newhound: I have found the food at Demos to be quite mediocre, with hummus tasting like it was prepared from canned chick peas.

        1. re: Science Chick

          I've never had the hummus at Demo's, and you may well be right that it is subpar. But I'm quite fond of their lamb shish kebab, and Jenny Ondioline loves their moussaka.

      2. Family in Brookline, Istanbulu, Esperia in Brighton, Garlic n' Lemons in Allston, Cafe Baraka in Cambridge - each is excellent - the first two are primarily Turkish, Esperia is Greek, G & L is Lebanese I believe, and Baraka is Tunisian.

        1. Watertown has 2 persian restaurants that will satisfy the need for lamb and hummus. Molana Restaurant on Spring Street in Watertown Sqaure (parking in the CVS main parking lot) or a little bit away on Mt. Auburn Street, there is Jasmine. The lamb shank at Molana is fall-off-the-bone good. Their rice is some of the best persian rice around. I haven't eaten as much at Jasmine because Molana is closer to me. If you do a search, I am sure you find some reviews.

          1. Cafe Barada on Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge gave us a decent meal the other day. Probably not worth a special trip, but decent. Barada is Lebanese - different from Baraka.

            Also Kolbeh of Kabob ain't bad. Also Cambridge, between Harvard and Inman.

            1. Babylon Restaurant in Lowell is Iraqi, and has good lamb and hummus. The Babylon chicken is great, as are the stuffed grape leaves.

              2 Replies
              1. re: justbeingpolite

                I chanced on Babylon last summer during a visit to the National Park in Lowell. It was the best part of the day!

                1. re: Pumpkinseed

                  Second Babylon - good spot in Lowell. Near the Auditorium if you are going up for a show.

              2. Garlic and Lemons and Asmara in Allston for divey shawarma type places.Both very tasty. The Lamb Shikebab sandwich at Turkish Family in Brooline on homemade bread or the Kibbeh Nayeh and cauliflower app at Al Wadi in West Roxbury kick assets.

                1. persian and not divey, but i always enjoy lala rokh on beacon hill.

                  1. Had brunch at Istanbul'lu yesterday, and it was spectacular. The hummus and sukuc were exceptional. It's not divey, but it is small and very informal. Reservations recommended.

                    1. Cafe Beirut in JP is awesome and I second Istanbulu.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: gini

                        The menu at Istanbulu looks really good. Any suggestions about what to order?

                        1. re: brieonwheat

                          i love the coban salad and the taz kebab (lamb stew) and anything lamb but I have liked everything I've tried at Istanbulu where the food is consistently fresh and well-made. I believe they recently acquired a beer and wine license which makes them an even more attractive stop.

                          1. re: brieonwheat

                            A friend ordered the haydari (yogurt dish) once and I thought it would be boring but it was just outstanding. Never would have ordered it from the menu description but absolutely loved it.

                        2. Al Wadi in W. Roxbury is VERY good and has a nice atmosphere as well. I think they've been overlooked a bit on the boards, but I have had a couple of excellent meals there. Great hummus and Baba, and my dining partners had outstanding lamb.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Science Chick

                            Al Wadi is good though I feel a bit overpriced. The atmosphere is nice though, service slow and spacey every time I go.

                            I third Garlic n' Lemons for the best divey Middle Eastern of all - and so cheap/

                              1. re: Bugsey34

                                Hmm....well, I'm a vegetarian so maybe the meat dishes are pricier than Boston Kebob,,,,but $7 for a nice falafel plate is cheaper than Rami's ($11.95), and you don't have to sit in that cramped little space. And the meat dishes at Al Wadi appear a step above in complexity of ingredients as well. So for a non-divey spot, I think they are great.....

                              2. re: Science Chick

                                I ADORE Al Wadi, I think it is the best middle eastern food in the area...Not divey, but wonderful, flavorful food...i got married there!

                              3. Sabzi (Persian) in East Arlington is cozy and inviting, much more so than the storefront might suggest.

                                1. Istanbul'lu for Turkish, Sabzi for Persian chelow kabab, Garlic 'N Lemons for shawerma. Sizzling House of Kabab also has great Persian style ground beef kabab and mirzaghasemi (grilled egglant puree with tomato paste and herbs).

                                      1. havent been in years but still crave Cafe Barada. Great authentic Lebanese with good veggie choices

                                        1. I am really a huge fan of Boston Kabob in Allston. It is not just a kabob place. It is the best Levantian (i.e. Lebanese/Palestininian/Israeli which I guess is what you're looking for?) I have had in the U.S. The poster above mentions Persian in Beacon Hill that has some amazing appetizers, but the entrees imo were quite expensive and not worth it.
                                          Anyway, Boston Kabob- definitely divey, but clean. They make the pita to order. That is, they make it from dough shaped on a bowl and bake it after you order it. We always order the vegetarian mezze plate with falafel, a number of salads including hummus, baba ganoush, tabouleh, and the best falafel I have had in a long time. I also really like their kofte kabobs, which comes with rice or french fries (very good) and we ask for 1/2 and 1/2. The food is just amazing and fresh and always delicious. Also I have had the maklouba, I think, from there which is lamb slow cooked and covered in a yoghurt sauce, underneath is very tasty rice seasoned with lamb fat and some kind of pancake that also soaks up the lamb fat. However all of this is much lighter than it sounds, it is all quite well done. They cater to Harvard, though I haven't had the fortune of attending an event by them.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: fara

                                            you're making me starved for Middle eastern! So just to clarify, theres Boston Kebab in Allston and Boston Kebab House in Boston and they are completely different? Is there ANY Mid Eastern north of the city? or further West than Allston??

                                            1. re: chompie

                                              Correct - Boston Kabob (note the spelling) in Allston is unrelated to Boston Kebab House in downtown Boston. And Fara is right - Boston Kabob is awesome.

                                              1. re: Allstonian

                                                I believe Boston Kabob is Egyptian, where Boston Kebab House is Turkish.


                                            2. re: fara

                                              This thread reminded me and Allstonian that it's been a few weeks since we had dinner at Boston Kabob Company, so we rectified that last night. Inspired by your suggestion, she ordered half-rice/half-fries with her lamb kabobs, which wouldn't have occurred to either of us before, so thanks for that. Me, I like their fries too much to give up even half of them: this is one of those places where the fries are almost certainly just your basic Sysco, but they're so perfectly fried, in oil that gets quite a workout given their trade in falafel, that they're just perfect.

                                              This and a stop at Mixx on the way home made for a delightful evening out.

                                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                I have eaten at Boston Kebob Company several times based on an earlier rec from you and Allstonian and have never been disappointed. I think they have the best falafel in Boston at this point in time (if anyone wants to dispute this I will be more than happy to try their candidates) and their Foul Mudammes is heaven in a bowl. And there is nothing like fresh pita hot out of the oven.

                                                1. re: GretchenS

                                                  Glad to help! And I concur. Best falafel -- and best falafel sandwich, a subtle but important distinction -- in town, beating out the previous champs at Fordee's.

                                            3. Shadi's in North Andover has great Middle Eastern.

                                              1. Middle eastern food is my favorite! Back in the day I was in the old "Red Fez" in boston. weekly. Sat vacant for years then reopened a few years back but no where near the same..
                                                I recently went to "Family" in Brookline and was great.. Had lamb and stringbeans.
                                                Although Greek, the "Greek Kitchen" is amazing for Greek food. My Greek friend says just like Mama!

                                                1. Haven't had a chance to go to one of the sit-down places yet, but got some takeout from White Dove Market, since my husband works down the street (but we never knew about this place). The felafel, hummus and tabouli were good, but I don't understand why the lettuce at these type of places is always old, smelly iceberg. I am sure we will get more takeout from this place, but I will compose my own salad at home.

                                                  1. perhaps it has already been mentioned, but i have come to like oleana after my first meal which did not delight me.

                                                    of course, since i eat in manhattan, price does not throw me