Tag Archives: Middle Eastern

Arabella Cafe in Washington sq. mall

I had to go back to this café for the 2nd time and try at least one of their hot beverages before I started blogging about them. Not the greatest blog intro but here I am, satisfied and excited that we have a posh café/bakery inside the Washington Square Mall in Tigard. Yes, we definitely needed one of these in this area.

Arabella Cafe in Washington Sq. Mall, Tigard, OR

Arabella is my new favorite place to hang out with friends, kids, or just to enjoy some masala tea by myself when in the mall. With it’s luxurious look and cozy atmosphere, it didn’t take much for the people to flock to this café in no time. Man, it was crowded this Saturday evening when my friend and I met up there. We had some sweet cheese bites and a Jordanian pastry. My friend ordered some of their decadent chocolates to go with her Turkish coffee and my “Karak” tea.

This was not my first time in Arabella. My daughter and I were shocked when we went to the mall few weeks ago and saw this brand new stylish place right outside the Macy’s. The grand opening was just couple weeks before our visit. After going inside the store, we discovered this is not your normal, every day coffee place. This had a unique Middle Eastern cultural touch in every corner. A big mural on the center wall, a history on the Jordanian town called “Arabella” on one side, gorgeous front-desk with varieties of chocolates individually packed as your front focal point, a marble table displaying different kinds of sweets on another side, and finally, a barista station where you get your exotic coffees from. Oh, if you are not in the mood for any drinks or chocolates, then at least go inside for all the gift items they have to offer, like chocolate boxes, Turkish coffee sets or Jordanian teapots, and tons of other stuff.

Arabella Cafe in Washington Sq. Mall, Tigard, OR

There are quite a few numbers of chairs and tables to sit down and enjoy your coffee/tea inside the store. What surprised me the most was that I knew the owner from way before and I even bought food from her few years ago at different community events. I was just thrilled to see that she and her husband established this beautiful eatery so close to me.

During the first visit with my older daughter, we picked 4-5 different kinds of cookies, sweets, and desserts. Usually they are mostly made from figs, dates, pistachios or various other similar dry ingredients. All of them were absolutely perfect…not too sweet nor too rich or too big. These are light and airy bites to go perfectly with their big selection of teas and coffees.

Arabella Cafe in Washington Sq. Mall, Tigard, OR

For now, I am waiting to take my younger daughter to Arabella, since she is the one in our family with a sweet tooth and I know she would love whatever they have on display when we go. But seriously, do check out this place…you won’t regret it. If anything you’ll thank me for introducing you to this one of a kind café in Portland.

PS. You can request to borrow one of their red Turkish/Sufi hats in case you want to take a selfie in it 😉

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


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

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.

Nicholas Restaurant Broadway

Wow, another brand new idea and another brand new blog. A foodie like me, needs to record all the eateries in her city. So…there you go Portland, I present to you Portland Culinary. My plan is to cover all types of restaurants and cafe in Portland, Oregon, from street side carts to roof-tops’ exquisite fine dinning places and share my experience along the way. I have been planning to do it for a while now…finally did it. Yep, let’s…get… started.

So, for the first post…we went to Nicholas Restaurant Broadway on NE Broadway Street this past Saturday with few friends and families. This is a Lebanese/ Middle-Eastern restaurant with excellent customer service, elegant interior, and DELICIOUS food.

My Beef Kafta Kabab with rice and salad
My Beef Kafta Kabab with rice and salad

We couldn’t find parking close by…had to park couple blocks away. They don’t take reservations but we waited about half an hour for seat (which is not bad for a Saturday night). First floor was jam packed, so we were taken upstairs where it was much quieter…so we kind of had the place to ourselves.

My cousin's Shawarma plate with rice and salad (shredded beef)
My cousin’s Shawarma plate with rice and salad (shredded beef)

The unlimited free fresh fluffy breads are on the house…eat as much as you want. The menu has variety options from kebabs (including salmon kebabs), salads, different sauces to go with your breads, sandwiches/burgers, Lebanese pizzas, and platters just to name some. Order came quicklier than I thought.  I ordered beef kafta kabab with jasmine saffron rice with salad and garlic sauce. It was GOOD and the portion was not too big and not too small. My daughter’s Lebanese style beef burger with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce was absolutely fantastic too. We had Vege Mezzas for appetizer which had falafels, hummus, tzatziki sauce, and tabouleh salad. I usually don’t like tabouleh salad in lot of restaurants, but this one was tangy and perfectly balanced. Try their peach lassi and cinnamon/mint tea also. If not good ol’ mango lassi is there too. If are still not full, try the baklava or rice pudding with pistachios (kind of big size though…be careful).

Inside Nicholas Restaurant Broadway
Inside Nicholas Restaurant Broadway (upstairs)

This is a great place to celebrate any occasions really, like birthdays, graduation, anniversaries or anything that sort. It has the elegant touch but cozy feelings too. It’s formal enough to host special events but not too formal for families with kids. I loved it and I gotta say I would go back there again and would highly recommend this place to my friends in Portland.