October 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Mediterranean Coast and the Islands of the Mediterranean Sea are by all reports some of the most beautiful places in the world. I have never really had the opportunity to visit this part of the world, but it’s something that’s high up on my bucket list. For now, I will have to make do with reading, looking at pictures, and eating the incredible cuisine from this area. The latter I can do right here in Omaha at El Basha Mediterranean Grill.

On the end of a modest strip mall on the corner of South 75th and Pacific streets is where you will find some of the best Mediterranean food in the area. The small restaurant is not the most attractive place in the world, but they have done a nice job with the space they have to work with. The tables are draped with white tableclothes, then topped with glass, and the chairs are comfortable and sturdy with leather backs. The patio is particularly lovely with many beautiful flowering plants and several attractive tables.

The service at El Basha is semi self-service, meaning you go up to the counter to order your food and beverage and then they bring it to your table. The system worked flawlessly, and the food comes out of the kitchen quite quickly. The young lady who took our order and brought us our food was very nice, and she was also able to answer several questions about the menu. Unfortunately, they do not have a license to sell spirits; on the positive side, they do allow you to bring your own wine and do not charge a corkage fee. It’s also quite fortunate that a gourmet deli and liquor store, Spirit World, is located in the same strip mall. Specialty wines and beers are just a few steps away.

The food at El Basha is the best part of the experience. On a recent visit, my dining partner and I tried the Meza Plate ($9.99) for an appetizer. This dish is a sampling of their most popular appetizers, including the best Hummus in Omaha, Baba Guanuje, Falafels, Taboule Salad, and a basket of fresh pita bread. All these tasted incredible and had the desired effect of really whetting our appetite.

Next, for entrees I had the El Basha Special Platter ($12.99) and my dining partner had the Chicken Shawarma Wrap ($6.99). The Special Platter is a mixed plate that includes Shish Kabob, Shish Tawok, Grilled Kafta with three sauces, and grilled vegetables, all served over Middle Eastern-style rice. This sampling was attractively presented and delicious. The unique flavors, spices, and aromas that come from this trio of Lebanese-style dishes are something that you will need to experience for yourself to fully appreciate.

As if that was not enough, this dish also came with a choice of soup or salad. I chose the soup and was blown away by one of the best Lentil Curry soups I have ever tried. The fresh-roasted coriander seed and lemon squeeze really set it off. My dining partner’s wrap was filled with the same chicken as I had with the Shish Tawok, which is essentially a curried, grilled chicken skewer. The wrap was also loaded with fresh tomatoes, onion, and a yogurt-based garlic sauce, which resulted in a very tasty wrap. It was served with a vinaigrette-style cold potato salad that was also very good and like nothing I have ever had before. Even though we didn’t need it, we finished our dinner off with some of their incredible Baklava ($3) for dessert.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at El Basha and plan to go back and eat my way through the rest of the menu, all the while pretending that I’m traveling in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. If you’re like me and enjoy eating foods from exotic locations almost as much as going there in person, then you will just love El Basha.

Cheers!

El Basha Mediterranean Grill
7503 Pacific St.
402-934-6266
elbashagrill.com

RATING (5 Stars Possible)

Food & Beverage: ***
Service: **
Ambiance: **
Price: Inexpensive
Overall: **1/2