For fans of baklava, baba ganoush, falafel and other Middle Eastern dishes, Phoenix can, surprisingly, be a goldmine of restaurants and eateries that dish out delicious specialties of the region.
From the comforting classics of India, to Afghani dishes rich in tradition and culture, to the flavorful feasts of Greece and the Mediterranean, these restaurants bring a true taste of the Middle East to the table.
Owner Isam Saed says “when you’re here, you’re family” of his bakery and deli located in central Phoenix. Specializing in Lebanese cuisine—with a few Israeli and Grecian offerings sprinkled in for good measure—the restaurant-slash-bakery-slash-deli serves a full menu of apps, salads and combo plates, including a variety of kebabs, ranging chicken to beef to lamb. Traditional dolmades (grape leaves), shawarma (grilled meats), imjadara (lentil and rice pilaf), falafel and gyros are also served, but it’s the house made baklava that makes this spot so special.
3052 N 16th St, Phoenix 85014
Global flavors come together at this central Phoenix, family-owned restaurant where the traditional foods of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India give diners a diverse mix of cuisines. Indian dishes run the gamut from the curry-centric chicken tikka masala to the goat biryani. Karahi is a favorite Pakistani dish made with flavorful meats (either chicken or goat) mixed with tomatoes, onions, green chilis and spices. The restaurant also serves the national dish of Afghanistan, kabli pulao made with rice, carrots and raisins, topped with a beef shish kabob.
4030 N 24th St, Phoenix 85016
When it comes to Afghan cuisine, husband-and-wife chef-owners Mohammad Safi and Mamoona Hilal are passionate about sharing foods from their native land. Formerly Tahoora Grill, the restaurant serves a variety of Indian, Pakistani and Afghani dishes made with meats and seafood. Vegetarians, however, have a wide range of delicious options, including the Afghani gulpi (cauliflower), sabzi (spinach), badanjan (eggplant) and bamya (okra). The restaurant is also known for its naan and breads, especially the aloo paratha, a flatbread stuffed with mashed potatoes and herbs.
1638 N 40th St, Phoenix 85008
For Middle Eastern cuisine quick, easy and at a decent price, this north Phoenix spot won’t disappoint. The mostly Greek menu features hummus and falafel for appetizers, as well as gyros, kabobs and salads for entrees.
But it’s their combo plates that give you the most bang for your buck. Choose the two- or three-meat combo and you’ll get a plate heaping with skewers of marinated chicken, beef or steak, along with generous helpings of rice, pita bread and fresh slices of tomatoes and onions.
15414 N 19th Ave, Phoenix 85023
At Baiz Market in central Phoenix (and a second location in Mesa), come for the specialty produce, fresh meats, and hard-to-find international brands…but stay for the fresh-made, authentic Middle Eastern fare.
Tucked in a corner of the market, the counter service spot is perfect for the on-the-go lunch crowd, especially those looking for a savory shawarma, deep-fried falafel or Mediterranean pie filled with meat, cheese, thyme, or spinach. And because no meal is complete without a sweet ending, Al-Hana offers an array of Middle Eastern pastries, from baklava sticky with honey, to date-filled cookies dusted with sugar.
523 N. 20th St., Phoenix
1858 W Baseline Rd, Mesa 85202
While Middle Eastern cuisine runs the gamut from Persian to Israeli to Turkish, Saba’s is known for its mostly Greek-inspired cuisine. Translation: If you’re looking for a tasty gyro stuffed with shaved meat or chicken; crispy spanakopita filled with spinach and feta; or dolmades, rice and spices wrapped in grape leaves, this north Phoenix spot is the place for you. Chef-owner George Shankool and his family have been serving authentic Middle Eastern cuisine since 1995, making Saba’s a favorite Middle Eastern spot for nearly 25 years.
4747 E. Bell Road, Phoenix
New to the Phoenix dining scene is Kovo, a Mediterranean-style restaurant in northeast Phoenix. Owner Yianni Ioannou, whose parents owned a restaurant in Cyprus, brings Greek- and Cypriot-inspired dishes from his childhood to this fresh, modern eatery.
House specialties include kebabs, braised lamb, stuffed peppers, and a carved meat platter featuring lamb, beef and chicken gyro, homemade Greek sausage, tzatziki and pita bread. At the bar, sample Mediterranean spirits from Greece, Italy and Lebanon.
10625 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix
Look at this beautiful lunch I got from the #Persian restaurant near work. They have #vegan and #vegetarian options and the sweet man that owns it takes such pride in his work (as he should). I love that I have some amazing options when I forget my lunch. #tiuteam #tiubikiniseries
While much of Middle Eastern cuisine features savory meats, it’s not all gyros and kebabs. Specializing in vegetarian Middle Eastern cuisine is Persian Garden Café in central Phoenix, where chef-owner Mahmoud Jaafari goes beyond the standard hummus and dolmas, and creates exceptional dishes made with fresh vegetables and fragrant spices. Specialties include the Purpleshoots, made with braised asparagus and grilled eggplant; and the ghor-meh sabzi, a traditional dish of herb stew made with spinach mixed with red kidney beans, and served with basmati rice.
1335 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix