If your exposure to hummus is just what you purchase at the local grocery store, then it is time to expand your culinary point of view. Mediterranean food is all about fresh ingredients, something you just can’t get from store-bought hummus. Try one or two of these delicious Mediterranean restaurants for a true education in what the food is really all about. You’ll fall in love with falafel, baba ghanoush and dolmas just like everyone else.
1890 E. Evans Ave.
Denver, CO 80210
Since 1978, if you have a craving for falafel, shawarma or baba ghanoush at 3 a.m., there is just one place to visit. Jerusalem Restaurant is the go-to place for late-night Mediterranean munchies. This iconic neighborhood restaurant is a popular spot for students at the University of Denver but it is also on the list of foodie fans from all over the Denver area. You’ll find all of the important menu items here, with delicious meats, shish kabobs and some of the best baklava in town. Plus, it is the only restaurant of its kind open until 5 a.m. on weekends, perfect for those after-bar food cravings.
Ali Baba Grill
2060 S. University Blvd.
Denver, CO 80210
If you like hummus, then you simply must try Ali Baba Grill. The hummus here is some of the best in town and that is just a small indication of the rest of the amazing food at this popular Denver eatery. The lunch special is a great deal, you can get a falafel sandwich with fries and a drink for less than $10. The bonus? The falafel is never greasy and always delicious. The décor of the restaurant is a lot of fun too with a great water fountain and picturesque paintings setting the backdrop for your dining experience. It’s another hot spot for DU students but it’s well worth the crowds.
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2290 S. Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80222
Moving away from the DU scene, you’ll find another popular Mediterranean restaurant on south Colorado Boulevard. The Marrakech Grill offers all the must-have items. The hummus is fantastic, the lamb and chicken is always moist and tender and the kafta is a must-try. Vegetarians will love the selection here with a lot of delicious veggie-friendly options while meat lovers will drool over all of the great meat platters. While there is no bar here, you are allowed to bring in your own wine, just grab your favorite on the way. Be sure to save room for baklava, it’s another must at this fantastic Denver restaurant.
5709 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80220
Don’t let the exterior of this restaurant fool you. This unassuming strip-mall location hides one of the best Mediterranean spots in town. Phoenician Kabob is famous for its service but you’ll stay for the incredible food. All of the important items are here – kabob, hummus, dolmas, shawarma, fatayer and more. Try the Lebanese martini, a delightful combination of Cointreau, Chambord and Brun Arak. It is a tasty treat that is unlike any other martini you’ve ever had. Plus, depending on what night you dine at Phoenician Kabob, you may even catch the belly dancers.
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2200 S. Monaco Parkway
Denver, CO 80222
Chef Yaffa of Yaffa’s Savory was born and raised in Israel, meaning she has a complex mix of Moroccan, Mediterranean and Jewish cuisine in her background. In addition to the delicious food in the restaurant, there is also a Boutique Café/Food market where you can pick up homemade herb blends, sauces, salads and incredible desserts to go. But the food at Yaffa’s Savory deserves to be enjoyed fresh from the kitchen. The menu is small but you’ll find all of the crucial items for a successful Mediterranean dining experience. Add to it by asking to chat with Yaffa, she’s always there and always ready to meet her guests and explain her culinary techniques.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.