Mashawi in Phoenix serves Lebanese-style Mediterranean food, including seasoned grilled meats and vegetables alongside pita and yellow long grain rice. You’ll find many similarities to the Greek and Mediterranean food with which you're already familiar, but at Mashawi you might notice the dishes seem a bit lighter.
Being first-time diners, we happily ordered the mixed Mashawi platter for two, which consisted of all the usual suspects — lamb kebab, chicken kebab, shish kafta, chicken kafta, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, rice, pita, and a salad.
The salad came out first, and what looked like an underwhelming plate of greens turned out to be a pleasantly tasty starter. Lettuce, cucumbers, purple cabbage, and tomatoes were well-dressed with an olive oil dressing that had both dried and fresh minced herbs, most notably parsley. We're strong believers in salads dolled up with herbs so, needless to say, we were happy.
When the platter made its grand entrance, we dove right into the meats. The chunks of lamb and chicken kabab were generous. Both seemed to be lightly seasoned in similar flavorings, but the meat's natural flavor did most of the talking. With a dip into the cool cucumber dill yogurt sauce or the garlic dip, each tender bite sang. There was also shish kafta and chicken kafta, which consist of ground meat flavored with parsley, onion, garlic, and seasonings. The shish kafta in particular was more moist and flavorful than expected with its combination of ground lamb and beef.
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The platter came with a side of pita and a generous serving of long grain yellow rice flavored with turmeric and cumin, among other things. We stuffed the pita triangles with the rice, meat, grilled vegetables, and sauce and were more than pleased with the combination of tastes and textures that came together in each bite.
To top everything off, there were stuffed grape leaves and falafel. The grape leaves were filled with seasoned rice, tomatoes, and garlic; the ingredients seemed simple enough, so the almost tart taste of lemon juice was a surprise. The tanginess brought the heavier platter a bit of freshness. As for the falafel, the golden exterior was crisp and crunchy, but it was by no means the oil bomb some falafel can be. The filling of ground chickpeas with vegetable and garlic held onto its moisture.
For those who are already familiar with Mediterranean food, the dishes at Mashawi won't be groundbreaking, but they're cooked exceptionally well. While you could find yourself a shish kafta or a falafel at any old Mediterranean restaurant, you’ll certainly find some of the tastiest at Mashawi.
Mashawi Lebanese Restaurant
814 E. Union Hills Drive, #6,
Phoenix, AZ 85024