Sep 242003
Authors: Chris Hess

File under: entertainment/food reviews or Dish

In a tiny strip of shops on West Elizabeth, next to the rubble that was McDonald’s, sits the Yum Yum restaurant. I had seen the hand made signs in the windows advertising pitas, healthy food and gyros a hundred times while munching on my Big Mac, but I never bothered to give the eatery a chance.

As I pulled my car up to the restaurant at 1300 W. Elizabeth, the first thing I noticed was the line snaking out the door, which was hopefully a sign of good things to come. After all, owners Phillip and Samia El Hakim probably wouldn’t have been able to keep Yum Yum open for 13 years if the food was bad.

After entering Fort Collins’ own Mecca for Middle Eastern food with my two eating companions, we stared blankly at the menu on the wall that featured almost 30 Lebanese dishes, half of which were vegetarian friendly. Having noticed our wide eyes, one of the owners handed us a blue take-out menu with “voted best of Fort Collins take out” printed on the front.

Inside, there were descriptions of the contents of each item on the menu, just in case you didn’t exactly know what something called baba ghanou, or eggplant, was. All the meals were reasonably priced, with pita wrapped sandwiches costing a little less than dinner plates served with a pita on the side. I was able to get a sandwich and large drink for around $6.

While waiting for our meal, my friends and I sat at an orange table straight out of 1972 and admired the faded photographs of Lebanon on the wall. Even though the food took a little while, it was reassuring to know that it was being cooked fresh, as we could hear meat sizzling on a grill behind the counter.

Finally, the time had arrived. One of the owners brought our sandwiches to us at the table, and apologized for the wait. She even went as far as to show us how to unwrap the foil around our pitas to make for easy eating. She then grabbed some hot sauce, put the bottle on the table, and left us to enjoy our lunch.

I chose to go with the chicken shawarma, mainly because it was the easiest item on the menu to pronounce, and one of my buddies went with the beef version of the sandwich. It is described in the menu as “tender beef or chicken marinated in special spices with lemon juice.” Whatever the special spices were, they made for some tasty meat, and the addition of shredded lettuce and chopped tomato to the pita completed the concoction. Both versions of the shawarma were great, without being too filling.

My other lunch companion decided on the sheesh t’aouk, which is “grilled chicken with tomato, onion and special spices.” According to him, it was absolutely fantastic with a little hot sauce, and proved his argument that big fancy restaurants don’t have anything on take out joints where meals are a fraction of the price.

After finishing our meals, we were disappointed to leave the fine establishment, wishing we had time to try more on the menu. However, our spirits were lifted when we read the sign on the door saying that Yum Yum hommoss wraps are available in the Lory Student Center on campus.

As we stepped out of the door of the restaurant, the noise of a new McDonald’s being built next door kept my companions and I from talking about our meal. But, I knew one thing for sure: I wouldn’t be eating a Big Mac any time soon.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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