Yafa Mediterranean Grill, 4004 Little Rd, Ste 112, Arlington. 817-969-5404. 11am-8pm Sun, 10am–9pm Mon-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Most Texans probably can’t tell the difference between Mediterranean food made by an Egyptian versus food made by someone from Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan. The staples of Middle Eastern menus (grilled chicken and beef, hummus, pita bread, and phyllo dough-clad desserts) are essentially the same in most countries. Yafa Mediterranean Grill doesn’t present food that’s strikingly different from what you’d see at most Mediterranean places, but the cuisine coming from transplanted Jordanian Mohammed Irwil’s kitchen stands out.
The hummus was simple and unfussy – not much garlic or lemon, although a generous dollop of gloriously fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of earthy paprika livened up the chickpea appetizer. The hummus comes solo or topped with beef shawarma (chewy, savory, spiced beef), which did a lot to elevate the dip. The presentation was completed by a few whole chickpeas and deliciously salty slivers of pickles. Plain, flat pita bread accompanied the dip.
Falafel are made slightly smaller in Jordanian kitchens – the six on Yafa’s appetizer plate were smaller than ping-pong balls, and they looked like they were prepared in a mini-muffin tin. A subtle sweet spice (maybe thyme – Irwil wouldn’t share what’s in the traditional za’atar herb seasoning) made the dish more interesting. The balls were crispy on the outside and almost fluffy on the inside, and the tahini dipping sauce packed a nice additional garlicky punch.
The shawarma was so tasty as…
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