A monthly roundup of ethnic eats, counter service chow and other tasty bargains. This month, we set out in search of Middle Eastern delis and kebab shops. We find so many, we only make it halfway through the alphabet. We’ll visit another group of them next month.
3815 Hillsborough St., Raleigh
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Originally a Middle Eastern market, Al Baraka moved into a larger location a couple of years ago and added a restaurant.
Try: Shish tawook, stuffed grape leaves, baklava. Before you leave, check out the adjoining market, where you’ll find everything from halal meats to house-roasted nuts.
2468 Walnut St., Cary
A locally owned oasis of fresh healthy fare amid the desert of chain restaurants that dominate the Crossroads mega-shopping complex.
Try: Chicken shawarma pita wrap (with pickles and fries), veggie sampler platter (choose from a varied selection of hot and cold options).
5400-102 S. Miami Blvd., Durham
This RTP eatery lives up to its “House of Kabobs” motto with what may well be the area’s largest selection of skewered proteins.
Try: Kebabs are the obvious choice, but don’t overlook entree alternatives such as pomegranate chicken and marinated lamb shank.
2105-AA NC Hwy. 54, Durham
Its daily changing buffet has quickly made this relative newcomer in RTP a popular lunch spot.
Try: The buffet offering is pretty solid across the board, but don’t miss the chicken curry if it’s available.
7961-110 Skyland Drive, Raleigh
Persian-style kebabs featuring halal meats make this little shop worth a drive to Alexander Village on the northwestern outskirts of Raleigh.
Try: Bone-in chicken (joojeh) kebabs are a best-seller, and deservedly so. I’m partial to the ground beef koobideh kebabs. Whatever you choose, make sure to get some of the sesame-spangled lavash, baked in the restaurant’s clay oven.
2945-121 S. Miami Blvd., Durham
The brick-and-mortar location opened in 2015 by the owner of the popular Gussy’s food truck serves up Greek street food.
Try: The lamb-and-beef gyro pita if you’re just stopping in for a quick bite; otherwise, splurge on the Zeus platter: gyro, chicken breast, falafel, a small Greek salad, pita, Greek-seasoned fries and your choice of hummus or tzatziki – all for $13.
962-A Airport Blvd., Morrisville
Tucked in behind a Mobil gas station, this hidden gem is worth seeking out for consistently rewarding scratch-made fare featuring fresh produce and halal meats.
Try: First-rate lamb gyro (chicken is also popular) – get the platter with a side of the restaurant’s namesake specialty hummus (choice of garlic, roasted red pepper, jalapeño or the “3 Way Hummus” combo).
Multiple locations; see website.
From its original (and now closed) location in the Cary Towne Center food court, this eatery has grown to six locations in just over a decade.
Try: Chicken shawarma, kebab platters and house signature sandwiches (think Lebanese pita meets panini) called Zakis.
410 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill
First your jaw drops at the extensive selection. Then your mouth waters at the quality. No wonder Med Deli, as it’s fondly known to regulars, has been around for a quarter century.
Try: Really, it’s hard to go wrong here. But whatever you do, don’t miss the house-baked pita (gluten-free also available).
3817 Beryl Road, Raleigh; 10235 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville. A third location will open in Durham in the base of the new Unscripted Hotel this fall.
919-828-1628 (Raleigh); 919-466-8100 (Morrisville)
The granddaddy of Lebanese delis started out as a family-run bakery in 1977 and evolved into a restaurant with a menu that has continued to grow over the years. Lunchtime lines at both locations attest to Neomonde’s enduring popularity.
Try: If it’s your first time, get the sampler platter and choose from the cold and hot dishes on display (add a date mammoul for dessert). You’ll see more temptations than you can order in one go, but trust me, you’ll be back.