Luckily, we have a wealth of local restaurants serving all sorts of mezze, kabobs, and other traditional Turkish delights inspired by reimaginings of the cuisine throughout this region. How about trying an overstuffed pita filled with spicy chicken shawarma and smothered in tzatziki, or seeking out herb-laden falafel?
If you’re craving a taste of the Mediterranean Eastern cuisine, you might want to try this local mini-chain’s buildable bowls heaped with fluffy rice or greens, vegan falafel or shawarma made with lamb or beef. You can also pick a pita stuffed with spicy chicken shawarma, house-made hummus, cucumber-heavy fattoush, and blissfully packed pistachio- and honey-flavored fries. It’s like taking a cruise on an Eastern Mediterranean caftan-sporting Chipotle, but with a unique twist.
57 Boston Wharf Rd., Boston, 857-250-4903; 100 Federal Street Atrium, Boston, 617-936-3005, 605 W. Kendall St., Cambridge, 617-252-0707, aceitunagrill.Com.
Are you looking for a campfire classic? The bar on which it is raised is absolutely amazing. Meanwhile, on the sweet side, you will find a loaded flatbread s’mores covered in Nutella, marshmallows, and graham crackers. Additionally, you can enjoy tangy labne yogurt topped with flavorful combinations of mint, tomato, feta, harissa, and walnuts. Don’t forget to savor the smoky baba ganoush, dotted with eggplant seeds, on a thin and flaky flatbread called m’anoush. At Anoush’ella, the most fun thing is trying a million different mezze options. So keep your head open to all the delicious choices!
35 W. Newton St., Boston, 857-265-3195; 401 Park Drive (Time Out Market), Boston, anoushella.Com.
Just ask the legion of Northeastern students who count this spot as a de facto dining hall, and you’re bound to be in here in fifteen minutes with a full belly, but reasonably priced and delicious Shawarma Boston is. The fresh halal meats include tender ribbons of shawarma, soujok, and lamb and beef sausages, or the meats laden with wheat bulgur and spices such as ground beef or kibbeh, which is also worth getting. But it’s the task of picking up the A-plus rice-stuffed grape leaves, which have just the right amount of lift, that you can assign yourself on your jaunt to work from home or in between classes, whether you’re popping in or out of the grill.
315 Huntington Avenue, Boston, 617-670-0460, boston-shawarma.Com.
JP sure has all the favorites you would expect, like herb-packed falafel and beef-like kabobs. This spot is known especially for vegetarians to come here for the dense Lebanese cheese, halloumi, which you can savor as a central protein in a shish kabob or in a garden wrap that sings with a za’atar vinaigrette and other preparations. It is also a special treat for vegans, as the spiced substitute meat, seitan, sees slivers of gluten-based meat substitute seasoned with lemon, cumin, and coriander oil.
654 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-553-1163, cafebeirutjp.Com.
The Chicken and Rice Individuals
Luckily, the generous helpings of rice are served with plenty of toasted pita points and shredded lettuce to cool the palate. The magic of this mouth-watering concoction lies in the crispy-edged chunks of beef and lamb gyro, piled on a bed of seasoned yellow rice. To enhance the experience, you can order a plate of rice and douse it with any number of sauces, including a zippy combo of jalapeño, cilantro, mint, and barbecue-style sauce. Frankly, the optimal way to enjoy this creamy creation is to sip it like a shot, as if it were whipped up by the local mini-chain turned halal street-food truck, Rice & Chicken, in Boston.
85 Bedford Street, Boston; 280 Washington Street, Boston; and 79 Ferry Street, Everett, can be reached at 617-903-8538 or visited on cnrguys.Com.
The standout dish is the special Berian pan-fried trout and eggplant, served alongside rice studded with walnuts and dates. The cozy jacket for the dish can be spiced rice palaw, flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom, or lamb racks served as a warm pillow. Oh, and don’t forget the baked flatbread, which is cooked in the wood-burning oven. This menu is influenced by the cuisine of Afghanistan, a country that shares its name with the longest river in the region, the Helmand. Located at the crossroads of Central Asia and the Middle East, this landmark in Cambridge is a true gem.
143 First Street, Cambridge, 617-492-4646, helmandrestaurant.Com.
Bow Market courtyard, opened in late 2019, is a rare spot in the Boston-area that serves as a link between culinary and geographic East Middle and Africa, dedicated to Egypt’s cuisine. Specifically, you’ll find boldly flavored vegan street food in the form of Koshari bowls, which consist of layers of pasta, rice, lentils, deep-fried onion-topped chickpeas. These beauties come in sizes ranging from eight to thirty-two ounces and are best enjoyed with Mama Spicy, a powerful garlic and vinegar-based condiment sauce.
617-229-9230, kosharimama.Com, is located at Bow Market Way in Somerville.
Since 1990, Rami’s has been showcasing Israeli cuisine with standout dishes like falafel and turkey shawarma, which diners have raved about. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the bountiful menu is the combo of salad served with plates, featuring stuffed pastries or bourekas with mushroom, potato, and spinach. Another standout dish that you should definitely buy by the pound is the crispy falafel, along with the enormous homemade pita loaded with garlicky hummus and baba ganoush.
324 Harvard Street, located in Brookline, can be contacted at 617-738-357 and visited at the website ramisboston.Com.
Cafe & Bakery Sofra, specializing in Middle Eastern pastries, remains a wonderful spot to enjoy a terrific home (also known as Oleana’s sibling) with its own patio. Ana Sortun, the co-owner and legendary local chef, teamed up with Cassie Piuma to create Piuma, where they serve creative dishes that combine inspirations and ingredients from the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. Don’t be afraid to try their traditional herby dukkah spice mix, served with black-eyed peas and coconut okra, or their octopus piri piri, both of which showcase Cassie’s culinary expertise. And if you’re in the mood for small plates to share with friends over drinks, Sarma offers traditional Turkish bars and meyhanes-inspired delights.
249 Pearl Street, Somerville, 617-764-4464, sarmarestaurant.Com.
Relative: The newly opened downtown Servia newcomer, Relative, offers a sprawling menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With a fusion of cuisines, the background of Italian chef Claudio Cavalerri shines through in the dishes. One standout item is the “pitza,” a lovechild of pizza and pita, topped with tangy kashar cheese, house-made tomato sauce, and kicking lamb merguez sausage. The menu also features shareable plates, such as the silky moussaka with a creamy béchamel sauce and a ragout of pork, lamb, and beef. The mezze selection includes olives, feta, and other simple delights, all finished off with spices, zest, and a touch of citrus. With its modern Middle Eastern fare, Relative flirts with fusion cuisine, making it a must-try for any food lover.