Medina Mediterranean Grill (1327 Washington Avenue; 314-241-1356) opened on April 6, offering Middle Eastern cuisine downtown. The fast-casual restaurant fills the space formerly occupied by Gelateria Tavolini, with enough seats inside for two-dozen guests. In addition to vegetarian-friendly options including sandwiches filled with falafel or hummus, the concept features traditional shawarma as well as modern takes on the popular street-food-style plates.
"Medina means city. With our menu, we try to take different styles from different cities from the Mid-East to North Africa," says owner Ibrahim Ead.
Ead's family previously owned and operated a west-county deli and bodega named Salam Market (still open, it's been under different ownership for a few years). At Medina, Ead continues the tradition with his brothers, Arafat and Sharif, cooking up a small menu of specialties in an open kitchen.
Their house favorite, "Original Palestine" shawarma sandwich ($6.50), begins with marinated beef or chicken, cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The meat is shaved from the spit and then cooked on a grill with additional spices before getting piled atop fluffy pita bread with vegetables and tahini sauce. The same proteins are also available atop the "Shawarma Salad" ($4.50 for a half; $6.75 for a whole) with greens, pickles and chickpeas.
According to Ead, these two dishes serve as a proper introduction to the restaurant's offerings. More adventurous options are the fusion sandwiches he created to blend his Palestinian and American heritage. Look for "Summer in Dubai" ($6.50) with chicken shawarma, pepper-jack cheese, tomato and chipotle sauce, as well as the "Juicy Jerusalem" ($6.50) with chicken shawarma, marinated onions, roasted red peppers, provolone and pesto-basil sauce -- both served on toasted French bread.
Additional salad options include the "Moroccan Spring" ($4.50 for half; $6.75 for whole) with romaine, spring mix, cranberries, feta, toasted almonds and raspberry vinaigrette, as well as the "C'zar" ($4.25 for half; $6.50 for whole) with romaine, chicken shawarma, parmesan, croutons and Caesar dressing.
Combos include any sandwich with a half-salad for $9.95 (add falafel or chips and a drink to any sandwich for $3). Baklava and brownies are also available for dessert. Medina Mediterranean Grill's current hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the Medina Mediterranean Grill Facebook page.
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