meditteranean eats in south austin

I’m always on the hunt for good middle eastern food. I love it all, especially a good falafel wrap with hummus, tabouli, pickles, and gratuitous amounts of tahini. I’ve proudly sported a Tom’s Tabooley bumper sticker on the back of my car since high school, but despite my great love for falafel, I sometimes can’t justify the drive to west campus from where I live in far South Austin. Luckily, I’ve recently come across not one, but two spots in South Austin offering delicious middle eastern food.

Strange Brew, my favorite local 24-hour coffee shop, now carries a variety of wraps from Ararat. Once a full-service restaurant on North Loop, Ararat closed due to a parking issue with the City of Austin much like the one currently threatening Casa de Luz. After getting back on their feet, Ararat began serving their food out of Hot Mama’s Cafe located on East 6th street. Despite never having visited the restaurant or their current storefront, I tried Ararat at their booth at last year’s Pecan Street Festival and have been intrigued ever since. Anyone who throws a sweet pomegranate reduction into a wrap with lemon garlic hummus, tabouli, and veggies is okay in my book.

Newly opened Tarbouch (located on E. Oltorf off South Congress) has fast become one of my go-to spots for eating out because it is quick, cheap, and absolutely delicious. I usually have to ask for pickles in my falafel wrap (so delicious!) but Tarbouch actually includes them along with your standard hummus, tabouli, and tahini sauce. The plates come with a side salad, which is nothing fancy but still very tasty. Crisp lettuce, feta, olives, and onion topped with a strong vinaigrette dressing. As you can see in the picture, the wrap will also be about as big as your face.

falafel wrap at tarbouch

Falafel Wrap at Tarbouch Lebanese Grill

Boyfriend has tried the chicken shawarma and the gyro plates and loves them both. The shawarma comes with a strong garlicky sauce that I stole about half of on our first visit there together; I now order a side of it to spread on my falafel wrap every time. If you are a garlic lover, I cannot emphasize enough that you order this with anything you get here.

Though the ambiance is nothing special, I have always received what in my opinion is awesome service- sit wherever you want, order, get your food fast, and go up to pay at the register when you’re ready to leave. And when you do leave, don’t forget to grab a square of baklava. It is definitely homemade and conveniently placed right next to the register.

Happy eating, South Austinites!

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