Najeeb Kabob House
This authentic, unprepossessing spot located in a tiny strip in Warren is a find. Step inside and be greeted by an immaculate dining area, friendly staff and Arabic music wafting through the speakers. The menu’s prices can’t be beat, and the portions probably can’t be, either. Be warned: You’ll have a hard time not filling up on the fresh, delicious flatbread before your food arrives.
Dish to try: The flatbread, more of the flatbread and an Iraqi salad. Plus a chicken cream chop sandwich for $2.99.
Bucharest bills itself as a Romanian restaurant, but its menu offers a handful of Middle Eastern options, including a falafel wrap, stuffed grape leaves and a fattoush salad. Bucharest has three Detroit locations.
Dish to try: After eating what some say is the best chicken shawarma sandwich ever, try an order of the stuffed grape leaves, made with beef, not lamb.
If you’re looking for a hidden-gem experience, head to M&M. This Dearborn mom-and-pop spot is cash-only, closed on weekends and doesn’t even trouble itself with a website (though it hardly needs one, given the streams of effusive online reviews). It’s also easy to miss on Michigan Avenue; one online reviewer aptly described it as “dressed in urban camouflage.” But those who make the effort to find it will be glad they did. M&M is Lebanese-influenced; among its specialties is a delectable lemon chicken, and other menu items include grilled kafta and kabobs. And while its Mediterranean-spiced Maurice burger is a diner favorite, the menu offers vegan options, too. Don’t dawdle waiting for your bill. M&M runs on the honor system, so just tell the cashier what you ordered on your way out.
Dish to try: Super hard to pick … the Mediterranean-spiced Maurice burger or the lemon chicken, and be sure to add any of the homemade soups.
The menu at this bright, colorful restaurant in Farmington Hills is rooted in recipes passed down through the Ansara family, the restaurant’s proprietors whose earlier generations arrived in the United States from Lebanon in the mid-20th century. The house specialty is the lemon oregano chicken, marinated kabobs sautéed in an oregano reduction sauce. Try one of 2Booli’s inventive fish options, including a delicious blackened salmon pita and a grilled tilapia pita. The restaurant also offers several Italian dishes. A second location recently opened in Troy.
Dish to try: Lemon oregano chicken, hands down.
CK Mediterranean Grille
CK Mediterranean Grille is a favorite of the downtown Detroit work crowd. Its extensive menu is about two-thirds vegetarian and almost entirely gluten-free; its garlic sauce and shawarma combo both have loyal followings. CK is a fast-casual restaurant, making it easy to grab a healthy entrée and go. But an outdoor patio, available in the warm-weather months, makes a leisurely meal a pleasurable option. (The downtown restaurant is closed on weekends. Check out other locations in Berkley and Southfield.)
Dish to try: A large order of the roasted red pepper hummus (see the recipe below)
La Saj in Sterling Heights is a good option for groups that need to please a variety of palates. The menu offers some Italian-inspired dishes and a variety of creative vegetarian options. But for those who want true Middle Eastern fare, La Saj won’t disappoint. The saj is a modern update of an old-time method of cooking: Food is placed on a metal dome, which is heated from below and maintains a cooking temperature of 500 degrees, searing food quickly. La Saj prides itself on its light, thin, seasoned bread, which is combined with various dishes. Among the specialties is saji kafta — skewers of ground beef, lamb, parsley and onion. Hummus can be ordered with toppings including chicken tips, fresh vegetables and ground beef.
Dish to try: Nothing beats food served on a stick, so sample the saji kafta (skewers of ground beef, lamb, parsley and onion). It comes with seasoned rice and saj-fried veggies.
Anita’s, a popular Lebanese restaurant in Ferndale, has drawn a loyal crowd since opening more than 30 years ago (the original Troy location is now closed). It manages to be a good option for both those looking for a nice evening out and those seeking a quick, casual meal. Anita’s offers outdoor seating and inviting décor; a distinctive wine menu, with many options coming from the Middle East; daily features such as lamb with green beans; an addictive eggplant salad and several creative pita pizzas (the Zaatar is topped with garlic, dried thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, labneh, goat cheese and kalamata olives).
Dish to try: Poke your fork into the eggplant salad — roasted eggplant, tomato, red onion, parsley, garlic, lemon and olive oil.