An Insider’s Guide: Ten Middle Eastern Eats in the 901

Craving an Arabian night-themed evening but can't jet off to the Middle East? I’ve got you covered with the ultimate Middle Eastern experience in the 901!

 

Enjoy this guest blog from Diyala Abdlrasul.

As a local Arab American woman who’s lived all over the place—Middle East, UK, US, Switzerland—and knows her Middle Eastern cuisine inside out, I'm super stoked to share my top 10 favorite Middle Eastern spots here in the 901. Let me tell you, diving into Memphis's food scene has been a blast, and uncovering the richness of its culinary offerings has been an adventure in itself. And you know what? I honestly feel like the Middle Eastern food scene here is right up there with what I’ve experienced living in the Middle East. It's been quite the delicious journey!

Whether you’re looking for the perfect Middle Eastern date night, girl’s-night-out, or just want to hang out with some friends, get ready for some Arabian nights to remember.

meat platter from Ali Baba
Jalyn Souchek

 

Ali Baba

Nestled in the Raleigh Lagrange Area of Memphis, Ali Baba stands as a culinary haven, offering a taste of Middle Eastern BBQ that rivals the authenticity found in the Middle East. Don't miss out on the experience—order their mixed grill with extra lamb chops, along with a side of THE BEST HUMMUS you’ll find in Memphis (and that’s saying a lot). Be sure to ask for Fattoush salad as one of your sides and top off with some refreshing cucumber yogurt. I recently fell in love with their “Layali Lebnan” dessert, which is basically just a semolina pudding with a hint of rosewater, topped with crushed pistachios—my favorite!

Ali Baba:
5800 Raleigh Lagrange Rd.

interior of Petra pastry bakery with display case of baked goods
Jalyn Souchek

Petra Pastry

This family-run spot celebrates Palestinian heritage and serves up the most delicious Kunafa you'll ever find in the US—challenge accepted, Detroit. Kunafa, originating from the city of Nablus, Palestine, is crafted from delicate strands of Kataifi pastry and doused in a sugar-infused syrup known as “qattar” or “attar.” Traditionally made with layers of cheese, clotted cream, and topped with crushed pistachios, it's an absolute delight. If you’re into pistachios, make sure you try the creamy Madluka, which consists of a cream filling called “ishta,” over ground and roasted string of dough and covered with more delicious cream. If you’re lucky, you may catch them baking up some Ma’amoul cookies, a.k.a butter-filled, semolina flour, date cookies, which are traditionally made during the month of Ramadan.

Petra Pastry:
5802 Raleigh Lagrange Rd.

woman poses with meat at table
Diyala Abdlrasul

Tannoor Grill

Owned by Palestinians, this innovative twist on the traditional Brazilian churrascaria is poised to become your ultimate destination for an abundance of halal/kosher meats and flavors inspired by the Middle East. And just like Brazilian gauchos, these skilled chefs bring the excitement of live grilling right to your table. Be sure to stay for the most flavorful grilled pineapple! Thank us later.

Tannoor Grill:
830 N Germantown Pkwy

 

 

Casablanca

With two locations on Poplar and one on Madison, this place brings an eclectic variety of Middle Eastern household favorites, including the best grilled chicken kabob skewers, with sides of rice and vegetables. If you’re looking for something light, try their grilled chicken salad—the dressing is phenomenal.

Casablanca:
Midtown | 1707 Madison Ave. #103
East Memphis | 5030 Poplar Ave. #7
 

Queen of Sheba

This Yemeni-owned restaurant is a prime spot for entertaining large groups of people and for those of you who are into a little flavor. Bringing in a blend of Yemeni spices into their grilled meats, you’ll feel like you were actually there. They also have a range of Middle Eastern-style “cocktails”—sans-alcohol, of course. They’re creamy fruity cocktails that will make you reconsider the alcohol down the line. If you’re feeling a burger but want something a little different, try their lamb cheeseburger! I am obsessed!

Queen of Sheba: 
4792 Summer Ave.

 

 

Flames Mediterranean & Grill

Flames serves up some seriously authentic shawarma, making it a must-visit spot for any Middle Eastern food lover in the 901! Bringing in a visiting chef from Jordan to oversee the menu adds that extra touch of authenticity—pretty cool, right? Between the juicy chicken shawarma, crispy falafel, flavorful Baba Ganoush, and irresistible baklava, I've officially declared Flames my new go-to spot!

Flames:
546 S Highland St.

gyro and fries
Diyala Abdlrasul

Happy Greek Cafe

You can find this spot off of Poplar and Highland, right across from Flames. While they do serve up some of the best Greek gyros in town, their hummus bowls are equally noteworthy. I suggest you opt for a hummus bowl packed with toppings galore and dressings, then add your choice of chicken shawarma or gyro meat.

Happy Greek Cafe:
547 S Highland St.

 

 

Zamzamz Mediterranean Grill

Founded by two Palestinian entrepreneurs, Zamzam promises a flavorful journey that reflects the rich culinary heritage of the Middle East. From the crisp perfection of their falafel to the savory goodness of their spicy chicken shawarma, kabob sandwiches, salads, and wide selection of other sandwiches and sides, each dish will inspire you to pay another visit.

ZamZams:
7706 Winchester Rd. #108

three entrees -- greek salad, sandwich
Diyala Abdlrasul

Cedars Restaurant

Nestled in between Dipsticle and Urban Air off of Germantown Parkway, this place is a great spot for quick Middle Eastern sandwiches and salads in the 901. Known for their chicken shawarma and grilled meat sandwiches, try their falafel and meat kabob pita sandwich!

Cedars:
694 N Germantown Pkwy.

 

 

Olive House Mediterranean Grocery

Olive House is not a restaurant but a Middle Eastern market serving some of the best Jordanian-style chicken shawarma sandwiches in Memphis. If you're unfamiliar, Jordanian shawarma is refreshingly simple, comprising spiced chicken, 'tom sauce' or garlic sauce, and Middle Eastern pickles with a touch more spice than those commonly found in the US. These shawarma sandwiches are perfect for a quick grab-and-go lunch. Just a heads up, you might need a couple to satisfy your hunger, depending on your appetite! You can also try their Musakhan rolls, which consist of a blend of chicken, sautéed onions, and sumac spice, wrapped in a thin flatbread-style bread called ‘shrak’ that’s lightly toasted to perfection. This place is also known for serving grab-and-go homemade meals like stuffed grape leaves, Kufta, and more!

Olive House:
9845 Lake District Dr. Suite #128
 

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