Tag Archives: Mediterranean

Dar Salam Lazurdi – Iraqi Kitchen in Portland Downtown

Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

Located in the heart of Portland downtown and very close to the waterfront park, Dar Salam Lazurdi is an authentic Iraqi restaurant that serves 100% halal dishes to all their customers. There is another Dar Salam location somewhere in Portland but I have dined in this downtown location couple times now and I loved it all the way. Just come prepared, you may have to park in the hourly garage or by the street

Inside Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown
Inside Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

I have come here during weekday lunch time with my colleagues and weekend dinner with my family. Both of the times, the place was somewhat packed. It’s a beautiful restaurant with elegant decors and exquisite interior war mural and paintings that depicts Iraqi culture and landscape. And that’s why I think this is a perfect place to celebrate an occasion or bring someone special for a fine dining. Dar Salam also has a small sitting arrangement outside but most of the time that doesn’t help much with our rainy weather.

Now, let’s come to food. First time I was here with my co-workers was during lunch time. You can order from the menu but we went for the buffet. That was a good option for me since I wanted to try different dishes. The buffet gives you option of fish, meat, wide variety of vegetables, rice, dips, and soup. Every single item on that buffet was very tasty and flavorful…no doubt.

Lamb shank in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown
Lamb shank in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

For the second time, I was there on a Saturday evening with my kids and uncle. This time we ordered from the menu (don’t think they have buffet for dinner) and honestly, we were all satisfied with all of our plates. Our lamb shank, chicken kababs, and beef kababs with rice and salad.

Beef and chicken kababs in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown
Beef and chicken kababs in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

For desserts…um, I’ve had better tasting baklavas than Dar Salam. Other sweets that we ordered were either too sweet or not what we expected. But I’d love to bring my friends or out of state guests to enjoy their food again. This is a perfect place especially for those who are on strict halal/kosher diet.

Desserts in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown
Desserts in Dar Salam Lazurdi in Portland Downtown

Two Brothers Cafe & Grill – Balkan food in Portland

I have been to Two Brothers Cafe and Grill few times now and this place never disappoints me. It’s a small Balkan restaurant and serves Bosnian cuisine specifically. I do have a soft corner for Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially after visiting that country few years ago. They probably have the best breads, kabobs, and burgers in the whole Balkan region. It kind of became a tradition with my daughters to go there after visiting the historic Peacock Lane of Portland to see the Christmas lights/decoration couple blocks from the restaurant.

Inside Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR
Inside Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR

Two Brothers Cafe and Grill is not that fancy of a place. It is a simple and cozy restaurant where you can get some best cooked meat and freshly baked bread in the neighborhood. I think by now, I’ve almost tried most of the dishes in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill. And some of my favorites are “chevapi” (small beef kabobs/meatballs), beef sausage that comes with bread “Sudzuka” and Greek salad, chicken kababs, and the combo platter. Ask for their Bosnian “Burek” bread which is not on their menu…they will occasionally have it every few months and if you are lucky, you will get to taste this warm and soft homemade bread right out of the oven. I still haven’t tried their Bosnian burger because every time I go there, I always end up ordering their beef kabobs “chevapi”. If you are a fan of bean stew, try the fasuli too.

My favorite dish in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill - combo platter with Chevapi (beef kababs) and beef sausages
My favorite dish in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill – combo platter with Chevapi (beef kababs) and beef sausages

Honestly speaking, I am not a big fan of their dessert menu. I have tried the baklava…it’s too dense and sweeter than other ones I’v tried. But I do like to have their Turkish coffee after my dinner, which is served in beautiful traditional Turkish pots and trays.

Bosnian Burek bread in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR
Bosnian Burek bread in Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR

I don’t go back to Two Brothers Cafe and Grill couple times a year just because this is the only Balkan restaurant I know in town, but also because they serve some of the best kababs in Portland and their service is great.

Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR
Two Brothers Cafe and Grill in Portland, OR


Antoni’s Restaurant – Beaverton

I officially have a teenager at home now. I say officially because, all this time she was pretending to be a teenager (pre-teen). This is an exciting phase for me…don’t really know what to expect other than what I experienced myself as a teen and what teenagers from this generation face.

To celebrate her 13th birthday, she wanted to keep it simple (compare to her last few birthdays) and wanted to take her few friends to a restaurant. We had total 17 people with her friends and families. After contacting few places from Italian to Middle-Eastern, we finally settled on Antoni’s (and not the Italian place in Portland, called Antonio’s). I’ve dined here before and I loved their food and atmosphere.

Cheese on flame in Antoni's
Cheese on flame in Antoni’s

Antoni’s is a Greek/Mediterranean place in Beaverton area on Canyon Road. It was love at first sight for me with this restaurant. I loved their food and interior when my friend took me there last year. This is a great place to celebrate an occasion or just go for soul Greek food or just love having breakfast/brunch outside of your house once in a while. Their menu pretty much covers wide variety of breakfast items, appetizers, all types of mouth-watering Greek salads, more than 10 different types of burgers, gyros, souvlaki, mousaka, seafood, kid-friendly menu, and other traditional Greek dishes.

Lamb and chicken skewers at Antoni's
Lamb and chicken skewers at Antoni’s

First time I was at Antoni’s, I had gyro, which I absolutely loved. This time we decided to go for Family Style Dinner for a big crowd. There 2 kinds of dinner platter that you can choose…Greek Dinner and Grilled Family Dinner. We ordered few of both platters. Both are slightly different and included cheese, salad, mousaka, dolmas, spanakopita, rice, mashed potatoes, lamb and chicken skewers, grilled shrimps, and veges. They were all great and all the kids loved the meat items as well as the salad and rice.

While everything on the dinner platter was great, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money here on desserts. The birthday girl received a free sundae ice-cream which was great. But most of the other kids who got ice-cream or lava-cake or cheesecake…they all complained the desserts weren’t that yummy. But most of all those desserts weren’t really traditional Greek or Mediterranean sweets.

Dolmas, spanakopitas, and mousaka at Antoni's
Dolmas, spanakopitas, and mousaka at Antoni’s

But other than that Antoni’s’ had a perfect customer service and dealt with this big group very professionally and patiently. The kids especially loved when our waitress flamed a block of cheese on fire in front of them and gave the younger kids some birthday goodies.

Antoni’s is in my list of favorite restaurants for Greek food in Portland. Check it out and do let me know if you come across any other good Greek restaurants in town. I like any kind of Mediterranean dishes any days of the week.


Tangier Restaurant – Downtown PDX

Last Friday, we had a group lunch to welcome a new team member at my work place. Someone threw the name Tangier as an idea and thank God, it was a good choice all the way.

Tangier Restaurant in Portland Downtown
Tangier Restaurant in Portland Downtown

Located in the heart of Portland downtown near the water-front, Tangier is a Moroccan/Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern restaurant. It’s a medium size place with warm and relaxed environment. We arrived there a little before noon. I guess lunch is very busy here. It took a while for the waiter to give us water, menu, and finally get our orders. Their customer service is fantastic and the waiter kept apologizing for the delay.

Inside Tangier, a Moroccan Restaurant in Portland Downtown
Inside Tangier, a Moroccan Restaurant in Portland Downtown

But it was all worth it when we got our food…it was so dorn good. The new employee ordered a mashed egg-plant dip (not baba ganoush) with a big circle bread as an appetizer for us all. When I see vege dip like that, a fear crawls up that will it be too garlicky or too herby. But this was a very well-balanced and well-spiced egg-plant dip that tasted fresh and tasty with the warm bread.

My Lamb Tagine in Inside Tangier, Portland
My Lamb Tagine in Inside Tangier, Portland

When I ordered my lamb tagine (they also have salmon tagine, but waiter suggested lamb is better), I visioned my dish would be served in a tagine (like the way I was served in Marrakesh). Not the decoration of the plate, but not getting my lamb inside a tagine did disappoint me a bit, but my first bite in that tender lamb chop was a heaven. I usually don’t eat lamb, except only for lamb gyro, but I would go back there to have that slow-cooked lamb with rice and egg-plant again. Maybe a small portion of tzatziki sauce would have made that dish even better. I think four other of my co-workers liked their dishes too…at least they licked their plates clean. One ordered a mezza platter, another one an artichoke soup, and I think another one was with lamb too. We also ordered some Moroccan hot mint tea and Turkish coffee.

One of my co-worker's vegetable mezza platter in Tangier

Their menu has a wide variety of options from Moroccan dishes to Lebanese to traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern plates. This is a great place If you are a vegetarian or a vegan or a meat-lover…you will get many options from soup/stew, salad, appetizers, sandwich, platters, pizza, kababs/koftas, and other traditional Moroccan plates.

Be prepare for some street parking or garages when coming to Tangier. It is a perfect place to bring a small group for lunch or dinner…for a nice family dinner on a Saturday night or to celebrate a special occasion with few people. Looks like weekdays during lunch is busy but the restaurant does take reservation. I thought, the price was very reasonable too. I would absolutely bring some of my family members or friends to introduce them to this place.

Baba’s Mediterranean Grill

This is what I was missing in my life…a gyro place where I can have my gyro the way I want it. Baba’s Mediterranean Grill is kind of like Subway or Chipotle, but the gyro version.

Baba's Mediterranean Grill in Portland, OR
Baba’s Mediterranean Grill in Portland, OR

My sister, my nephew and I went to Baba’s near Portland Ikea couple weeks ago. It’s  a quick and fast Mediterranean place with both meat and vegetarian options. You can get chicken, beef, lamb, and falafel in a pita bread or in a bowl of rice. After choosing your meat and dish, you can choose your own sauce and veges, exactly the way you want your platter to be. My sister had chicken rice bowl and I had lamb/beef shawarma in a pocket pita bread. While my shawarma was good, it did have a very slight smell lamb. Which I don’t think I ever got from a lamb and beef shawarma.

Chicken rice bowl at Baba's
Chicken rice bowl at Baba’s

Baba’s Mediterranean Grill serves meats without fillers, preservatives, or additives. They have a decent varieties of gluten-free or vegan options for reasonable prices. Now, the big question is would I ever go back to Baba’s again? Hmm, yes…maybe, when I want a gyro my way. But then again, I think there are other Mediterranean grills where I can get better quality gyros, even if I can’t pick my own sauce and veges.

Lamb and beef shawarma at Baba's
Lamb and beef shawarma at Baba’s

Zaiqa in Hillsboro

I’ve been waiting for a good Pakistani-style kabab and biriyani place in Portland for a while now. And after one of my friends mentioned about Zaiqa, I was more than desperate to try this new place. By the way readers, if you know of any other Pakistani kabab places in the Portland area, please let me know.

Inside Zaiqa in Hillsboro
Inside Zaiqa in Hillsboro

Zaiqa is a brand new Pakistani/Indian, also Mediterranean restaurant very close to the Hillsboro airport, where Urban Masala used to be once. My friend and I were there last evening, on a weeknight, around 8pm. It was empty for a while, until couple other people showed up. While the owner and the waiter are still learning their ways in the new business and how to please the customers, their friendliness was 5-stars. Yes, we had to shout “excuse me” few times to get us a table and we were not given the shiniest and cleanest plates nor served with water when our glasses were totally empty or the fact that the guy took away my left over beef kabab without asking me and gave me a take away box only for my chicken kababs. But the owner came and talked to us for a while and mentioned he was a pilot and his chef has a master degree in mathematics. They are just doing this for fun, to earn money, and kind of as a project to explore business ideas.

Chana Tarkkah daal and Garlic naan in Zaiqa
Chana Tarkkah daal and Garlic naan in Zaiqa

Zaiqa is a halal/kosher place where variety of meats used here are slaughtered in proper Muslim/Jewish way. This is not only a Southeast Asian place, the menu also covers little bit of Mediterranean tastes too. We ordered beef kabab, chicken kabab, garlic naan, and chana daal tarkkah. It took little bit longer than usual, given that we were the only customers at that time. But the owner came and assured us that the chef cooks everything from scratch and with fresh ingredients…that’s why the long wait. And of course, once our food arrived, we could taste that in our dishes. The kababs were fantastic. Again, the I loved the kababs, especially the beef skewers. They were moist, soft, perfectly seasoned, and will hit your spot right away. We requested to make them extra hot. But spice level wasn’t up to our standard and we were expecting a little bit more kick. The daal was very flavorful and the garlic naans were fresh out of the oven with beautiful aroma.

Beef kababs in Zaiqa, Hillsboro, OR
Beef kababs in Zaiqa, Hillsboro, OR

Despite some of the obvious flaws of this restaurant, the owner was very honest about how he wants to improve his business. He told us specifically to go to Google, Facebook page, and Yelp to review their restaurants, so that they can learn and improve. I can care less for those small things if the food satisfies my soul. And it did. The friend who recommended me this place, said to go try their brunch items…I just couldn’t wait until Saturday or Sunday to do that. But I’ll come back again during their brunch time someday (where they have halwa, puri and nehari). Another thing I have to try here is their biriyani (I love Pakistani-style biriyani). I think I have found my perfect desi kababs here and I am even thinking of catering their kababs for large gatherings and events.

Chicken Kababs in Zaiqa, Hillsboro, OR

Zaiqa’s buffet is only during lunch time if anyone is interested in that. Please go check it out, I can guarantee you that you will love the place and if you try their brunch, biriyanis, or other dishes, do let me know how they were.

Happy eating.

Pasha Restaurant & Lounge

My older sister came to Portland for a job interview last week and I took her to our famous Multnomah Falls and then Vista House on Columbia River Gorge on Saturday. We experienced one of the most spectacular sunsets from the Crown Point that evening. As soon as the sun was lost in the horizon around 9 pm, we were ready to head out and have some dinner. After searching for restaurants for few minutes, we found that most of the places in Portland were closing by 10 pm. We decided to just go to a diner or head home and eat left overs. But then I remembered this Middle Eastern place, called Pasha, was having some kind of a live event tonight (saw it in Facebook). And it was the only place we found open until 11 pm…so, no more thinking, Pasha it was.

This was my first trip to Pasha Restaurant and Lounge. One of my Egyptian friends has been telling me about this place for months now, but never had a chance to try it. It worked out perfectly that night.

Inside Pasha Restaurant & Lounge in Oregon

Pasha is located in Lake Oswego area and while everything else in that complex was closed by then, Pasha was the only place just getting ready to start the party. And don’t worry about the parking…it has plenty of spaces and if you come a bit early there is a halal/Middle Eastern grocery right beside Pasha. Inside the restaurant, it’s very elegantly decorated with beautiful lights and ambiance. Most of the guests were well-dressed for the venue and event. Pasha looked like an upbeat place where you would want to spend your Saturday night in. My sister and I showed up a little before 10 pm. A very nice lady greeted us and told us there is a cover charge of $10 per person for the live show and dinner was going to be ordered separately.

Our friendly waiter gave us the option of siting inside or outside. Since there was going to be a show, we decided to sit inside. The menu had variety of options from hummus and stuffed grape leaves to falafels, gyros, platters, soups, and salads. We were hungry but weren’t really up for appetizers. So we went straight to dinner items. I had chicken soprano kebab for $18 which came with a stick of chicken kebabs and a stick of ground beef kebab with saffron rice. My sister’s ground beef kebab was the exact same thing, except it had 2 sticks of beef kebabs. They also had something called “Garb” kebab which was basically slices of beef steaks in kebab masala. Fast forward to the moment when we got our dishes, the platter looked big in portion with lots of rice and meat (nor my sister or I could finish our meals)…with one lonely grilled roma tomatoe. WHAT??? No salad or tahini/yogurt sauce? We had to get the cucumber and yogurt sauce for $3 on the side to save our meal that night, otherwise that plate would have been one dry meal. I wish they cut down on the rice portion and added some fresh salad. That would complete the plate perfectly.

The food came pretty quickly, given that it was kind of busy. I won’t say the food was either awesome or too bad. It was just OK, yes…just very mediocre style Middle Eastern food. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted good…but didn’t really have that wow factor. But thanks to that cucumber and yogurt salad to our rescue…otherwise it would have been very hard to swallow the dry rice and kebabs.

My chicken soltani kebab with rice in Pasha Restaurant & Lounge

The show started right around when our food came. It was mostly group and solo belly dancing by these 4 or 5 beautiful young ladies. One of them did some tricks too while dancing, which was pretty cool. I am not sure if these same ladies perform whenever they have these live performances or new shows take place every time. But it was nice overall, if you prefer a lively show with your dinner. FYI, make sure to have some cash to tip the dancers when they come to your table, some men came ready with bunch of $1 and $5 bills.

Live show in Pasha Restaurant & Lounge in Lake Oswego, OR

Would I ever go back to Pasha? Hmm…yes, I liked the atmosphere, their pleasant services, and somewhat the show too. I still have to try their appetizers and other dishes from the menu. I would definitely bring my friends here to celebrate an occasion or just to have a good time. It seemed a bit formal when we entered but sometimes I like that business casual environment too. On the final note, although we didn’t try it, Pasha has a hookah bar for $20 per serving…let me know how it is if you ever try it.