822 South College Ave.
Alsalam also provides take out orders, delivery and catering.
Monday – Thursday 11am – 9pm
Friday – Saturday 11am-10pm
Sunday – Closed
Tucked away on the second story of a strip mall on the East side of College Avenue next to the Phillips 66 awaits an exotic Middle Eastern adventure sure to entice the palate.
Alsalam, a restaurant specializing in Arabic cuisine, has been open for almost nine years, since 1997, and continually provides an exciting dining experience for the timid food connoisseur.
The cozy surroundings are humble and slightly Americanized with framed images of foreign places and black and white checkered tablecloths. However, maroon pillows inset with golden embroidery decorate the floor, adding a hint of culture.
The ceiling is covered in black drapes and hanging lights while a fountain splashes peacefully in the corner. The sounds of pounding drums and a woman chanting echo off the walls.
A waitress approaches and requests the removal of my shoes before proceeding to the table, which is located on the floor.
Glancing through the menu, the items almost appear to be written in an indecipherable language. Tabbuleh, Fatouch, Shawarmah Plate, Qudsia, Nammoura and Mammoul are just a few choices that grace the menu.
"All Middle Eastern food is cooked the same but you use different spices," said Osama Barzak, co-owner with his brother Tarek, of Alsalam Restaurant.
The waitress asks for my drink order and I notice that there is a surprising array of juices, teas and coffees. I go with mango juice and am pleasantly surprised with the sweetness of this delectable beverage. However, the hardest choice is in deciding on the salad, appetizer, entree and desert.
The prices are less expensive than most restaurants, ranging from green salad at $1.29 up to the $22.99 Vegi Family Meal for Four. The portions of the entrees and dips can easily be split between two individuals.
If you are looking for a vegetarian alternative, Alsalam has what you're looking for.
"A lot of my customers are vegetarians." Barzak said. "Everything [vegetarian] is made with 100 percent vegetable oil, no soy, no milk, no yogurt."
Eventually, my friend and I decide on the grape leaves filled with rice and drizzled olive oil as an appetizer, the Meat Combo for Two as an entree, which comes with salad and lemon juice dressing, warm pita bread, babagahnouj (seasoning and eggplant pureed into a dip), hummus dip (made from garbanzo beans), gyros (lamb and beef seasoned and combined), beef kabobs dipped into the cucumber and yogurt salad, kufta (ground beef rolled into a ball) and chicken spiced with curry.
The flavors of the pita bread dipped into the babagahnouj and the chicken explode on my tongue becoming instant favorites.
Topping the meal off are several deserts. The baklava and lady fingers, flaky buttery pastries made from phyllo dough and both topped with pistachio nuts are delicious and flavorful.
The lady fingers were luscious and at only $1.59 per piece this desert provides a tasty sweet to end the meal. But if you have a sweet tooth, try the nammoura, which is made with coconut and syrup.
If you are looking for a unique dining experience, friendly customer service and have a couple of hours allotted for dinner, head to Alsalam and you are sure to be pleased. Also every other Friday, check out the belly dancer providing entertainment as you eat.