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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mediterranean dining at Zayna’s

    Mediterranean dining at Zaynas

    If you are willing to take a step out of the UA area for new tastes, Zayna’s Mediterranean Café is worth your time. Located on Tanque Verde Road near Catalina Highway, Zanya’s is a 15 to 20 minute ride from the University area.

    With offerings of lamb, beef, chicken and some light vegetarian fare, Zayna’s skillfully presents a menu perfect for the Sonoran summers. Their manageable prices just add to Zayna’s appeal. It’s quaint interior compliments it’s simple food. Brightly painted walls are adorned with photos and cultural items from Syria, where the owner is from. Although tiny, the restaurant is comfortable and offers outdoor seating that compliments the warming weather beautifully. The food is what makes Zayna’s worth the trip.

    The Vegetarian platter ($7.50) arrived freshly prepared with an undeniably enticing aroma. Included on the platter was humus, baba ghannuj, a small salad, a za’tar pita, falafel, grape leaves or dolmas, and pita bread. The dish was delightful. Nothing was over spiced or too intensely flavored. As someone who often passes up humus and baba ghannuj for their intense flavors, I was pleasantly surpised by their lightness. The za’tar, a spice mix often found in Arab food, stuck to tradition and tasted just as za’tar should with thyme offering the strongest flavor. The dolmas, grapes leaves stuffed with herbed rice, were tender and light with a hint of lemon. Any vegetarian with a taste for the Mediterranean will not be let down with this platter.

    Their Chicken Shawarma platter ($8.50) was a delicious dinner choice. The herbed chicken dominated by mint paired with a thin, refreshing lemon yoghurt sauce was perfectly constructed yet simple. Accompanied by garlic green beans, pita and hummus the meal was the ideal size for dinner.

    Steak eaters beware: you’ll find that the Kitfa Kebab plate, which consists of a minced beef kabob with basmati rice, a minty yoghurt sauce, green beans and pita, is not what you may expect. The moist and mild dish, a delicately spiced hamburger textured kabob, presented a texture not many would associate with “”kabob””. However, even with that surprise, the meat was flavorful and worth a taste. The one downfall of the meal was the rice. Not evenly cooked, tiny hard grains dominated the side. But with that aside, the three entrees ordered were light and healthy, liberally spiced and overall extremely satisfying.

    For dessert they offer baklava, a honey-sweetened philo dough pastry filled with pistachios. One of my favorite sweet treats, their traditional baklava was perfectly sweetened and made a fantastic ending point for the meal.

    Entrées at Zayna’s range from $8-$9, with sides averaging $3. Portions are lighter than at many local eateries, but this trumps overeating and allows you to feel fulfilled rather than stuff. They offer a to-go service but it’s worth eating in. Zayna’s Mediterranean Café creates simple food in the brilliant tradition of the Mediterranean. It is a great Tucson find.

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