Sarah's Mediterranean Grill & Market

Everything about Sarah's radiates a strong and calm sense of self-respect, from the cheerful cleanliness to the excellent cooking

Sarah's Mediterranean Grill & Market
Photo By John Anderson

Sarah's Mediterranean Grill & Market

5222 Burnet Rd. #500, 419-7605

Grill: Monday-Saturday, 11am-8pm;

Sunday, noon-6pm

Market: Monday-Saturday, 9am-9pm;

Sunday, 11am-7pm

This unassuming new Middle Eastern restaurant and grocery opened before Christmas, and the word is starting to get out: Sarah's is a hidden treasure, with good food for cheap, both at the cafe and on the shelves. Although it's not a fancy place, there is clearly a woman's hand at work, one making that extra effort to do things properly. Everything about Sarah's radiates a strong and calm sense of self-respect, from the cheerful cleanliness to the excellent cooking.

The woman is May Aranki, mother of five daughters and, most likely, the face you will see behind the counter. Her youngest daughter, 3-year-old Sarah, lends her name to the establishment. It's May who insists on absolute freshness; in her own words, her vision is to make and serve food "with honor," and that is exactly what she does.

All of the cafe fare is made to order, and although the selection is not huge, the bases are covered. Falafel and shawarma can be ordered either in pita wraps or as components of prepared plates. The pita wraps have the filling of your choice surrounded by the house salad (diced lettuce, tomato, parsley, and cucumber in vinaigrette) in a light tahini dressing and are a steal at $3.75 or $4.75.

The Falafel Plate ($4.75) has four falafel patties, a helping of house salad, a serving of hummus, and a serving of tabbouleh and is served with heated pita bread. The falafel is light, hot, and tasty and is entirely homemade (not a mix!). Even though Sarah's is inexpensive, care is put into the presentation: The house salad is garnished with a few pieces of fuchsia pickled cabbage (delicious as well as pretty), and the hummus is garnished with a little olive oil and paprika with four garbanzo beans on top for visual effect. In addition to the lovely presentation, the hummus itself is creamy and delicious, and May doesn't skimp on the tahini. The tabbouleh is deep kelly green with lots of super-fresh parsley and makes a perfect foil for the rest of the plate.

No matter what I am ordering in a Middle Eastern restaurant, I always want hummus, and, happily, all of Sarah's plates include a serving of it. The Beef Shawarma Plate ($5.75) features a lovely big serving of savory rice, lightly seasoned and topped with slivered almonds, alongside a large portion of sliced shawarma. House salad, hot pita bread, and hummus round out the plate. The Rotisserie Chicken Plate (quarter-chicken for $5.75) substitutes crisp and juicy chicken, tenderly falling off the bone. All of the servings are generous, in the manner of a good cook who wants to fill you up. The other plates offered are chicken kebab ($6.25), chicken shawarma ($5.75), hummus shawarma ($4.25), and half a rotisserie chicken ($6.55).

Sarah's also offers Greek salad (4.75), Caesar salad ($4.75), chicken Caesar salad ($5.75), and fatoush ($4.75), as well as tabbouleh ($2.50). Stuffed grape leaves are 65 cents, and spinach, meat, and feta pies are 99 cents. Baklava is 85 cents.

The grocery half of the establishment is also notable for its high quality and freshness. May and her husband, Nasib Naser, drive to Houston personally to get the imported groceries they carry, not wanting to allow a week's lag in delivery. Only the highest quality brands are carried, and bargains abound.

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May Aranki, Sarah's Mediterranean Grill & Market, Nasib Naser

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