The best ethnic food is often the most difficult to find. So each week we'll spin the globe and search for a new other-worldly spot to expand our eating horizons around the Valley.
This week we go to Lebanon, Israel and Greece at Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli.
Authenticity-rating: According to the man behind the counter, the food at the Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli is "80% Lebanese" peppered with some Israeli and Grecian fare. On the extensive menu: an array of "try everything" platters, sandwiches, kabobs and desserts.
The in-restaurant market is filled with grocery goods and pre-made moussaka, meat and spinach pies, grape leaves and baklava ready to take home.
Read more about what you should order after the jump.
What to order: On this trip, I tried to get the most bang for my buck and ordered the combination platter which comes with falafel balls, grape leaves, gyro meat, hummus, baba ganoush and something called "kibbeh", which is kind of like a meat square. For someone new to middle eastern fare, it's a good way to sample a bit of everything.
My dining companion was on week-long vegan challenge and opted for a falafel sandwich, which was filled with the same crispy falafel balls in my platter, with tomato, lettuce, onion and tahini sauce tucked inside chewy pita bread.
On Foursquare, several suggested the lemonade, saying, "it's excellent."
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With that kind of commendation, I had to try it. Delicious, but quite sweet.
The ambience: The outdoor mural features a guy on a flying carpet holding a dish of food. The kitschy vibe continues inside with painted murals, a market with house-made food, spices, hookahs and other paraphernalia.
Order at the counter and then sit inside next to murals listening to Middle Eastern music, or at one of the 2 tables outside.
Vegetarian-friendly: A host of vegetarian (and even vegan) options including a vegetarian combo platter with meatless grape leaves, hummus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh is just one of the meatless options.
Note: The pita bread ($3 for a bag) is downright amazing. Light and fluffy, yet durable, it is my new go-to for sandwiches.
Read what the folks at Yelp had to say about it.
Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli is located at 3052 N. 16th Street from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Know of a good ethnic restaurant we should check out. Let us know in the Comments section below.