Monday, January 30, 2023

Aladdin’s magic!

I know I won’t be able to get in here come October, but I’m singing anyway. There is a new place in town and I am loving it: Aladdin’s Eatery (although I hate the word ‘eatery’) at 21200 St. Andrews Blvd., Boca Raton (near Maggiano’s).

This Lebanese/Middle Eastern franchise has a wide-ranging menu, great prices, and food so fresh it ought to be spanked—as well as excellent service.

Win, Win, Win.

Ok, so I am as snobby as the next South Floridian about gussied-up franchise places—but the new location for the Ohio–based chain has success stamped all over it.

The restaurant is new and sunny, nothing fancy, but comfortable. We tried the obligatory ap sampler plate of tabouli, hummus, baba, falafel, and dawali (grape leaves) and everything on the plate was flavorful, fresh and tasted homemade. My dining partner went crazy when she saw mujadara on the menu, and after I tried it, I could see why. A bed of steamed brown rice and lentils topped with Lebanese salad and a layer of dark toasted onions was as satisfying as it was, yes, healthy.

There is a whole menu section dedicated to pita “pitzas,” which are paper-thin pitas, covered in various toppings and quartered for easy sharing. We tried the Greek pitza, with feta cheese, olives, zaatar, diced cukes and tomatoes green peppers—once again, fresh and crisp and clean, if that makes any sense.

It’s going to take me most of the summer to taste my way through Aladdin’s large menu, but I am not daunted. It’s tough to find a place that tastes good and is good for you, as the man used to say—and this is a keeper.  Next time, I am headed straight toward the rolled pitas, maybe the Shishtawook (char-grilled chicken tenders and turnips among other yummies) or the V-nine soup made with nine fresh veggies, or even a salad pocket.  And did we mention the shawarma? The kibbie? The kafta?

It’s easy to overlook franchises in the land of chic mom and pop restaurants, but part of being able to spin off new locations is a proven formula.

And this one works. Head to Aladdin’s while you can still get a table—and Sahtain!

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