I'm guessing you'd enjoy an utterly delicious, scratchmade and pretty damn healthy multi-dish dinner for two that'll set you back only 20 bucks? Well then, get your bargain hunting, picky palate to the charming little Mazah.
When you visit Mazah - and you really need to because the place makes great Middle Eastern food - you'll notice similarly mounded-up platters being whisked out to most every table. That's because Mazah's knowing regulars embrace the Grandview eatery's cost-effective, grazing and noshing approach to dining - which is a ton of fun.
Open about a year and a half, Mazah has a legacy that reaches back decades to Sinbad's, one of the original (if bare bones) Middle Eastern restaurants in our area. Now that same family's style of authentic cooking can be had in a bright and friendly joint painted in alternating shades of cheery yellow, green and orange.
There, you'll enjoy pleasant Arabic music piped in at perfect, conversation-allowing levels, while you - as I advise - head to the "Mazah's Samplers" section of the menu.
Here, you'll find plates arrayed with selections of terrific homemade dips, salads and appetizers - you know, like hummus, tzatziki and falafel. These transcend the usual versions elsewhere with their variety, vibrant flavors, rich textures and all-around freshness.
You can either dabble with the starter route or go full-bore and make a meal of these. In the latter case, I recommend the feeds-two Couples Sampler ($20) - which comes with first courses (made up of soups and/or salads) and an entree.
Here's a blow-by-blow account of a recent "Couples" dinner (I picked the chicken kabob to keep things light, and because Mazah does an exceptional job with it):
• Lentil Soup: served with super-crunchy, addictive, almost fry-like pita sticks, it's all veggie yet hearty and thick and totally satisfying
• Greek Salad: One of the better versions in town with its bright, lemony dressing, good feta and briny olives plus an all-romaine base
• Falafel balls: Crunchy, not greasy, a hint of spice and just wonderful
• Hummus: smooth, creamy and soothing chickpea dip
• Tzatziki: thick and tart yogurt spread with an intense garlic bite cooled off by cucumber and mint
• Cabbage salad: mild and nice, long-marinated, enriched with plenty of olive oil
• Potato Salad: Not what you'd expect; it's mayo-free, garlicky, lemony and sprinkled with lots of parsley
• Tabbouli: Lemony, parsley-heavy and really refreshing salad
• Baba Ganoush: Smoky, smooth, tahini-fortified and altogether top-notch eggplant preparation
• Fava Bean Dip: Dark, uncommon, earthy, racy, salty and aromatic
• Three Bean Salad: Simple and substantial
• Chicken: two modest-sized boneless, skinless, juicy and tender planks with deep grill marks and a bright, lemony marinade