Rating: 4.5 / 5

At first glance, Mr. Kebab, a Mediterranean restaurant located on Iowa Avenue, is far from impressive. The location is hardly ideal and the interior design isn’t spectacular either. But after sampling the food it became clear that what entices customers to Mr. Kebab is not the initial aesthetics.

We were starving when we walked into Mr. Kebab’s on a particularly hot Friday afternoon. A few people occupied the tables and beige colored booths, but other than that the place was quiet. The walls were lined with mirrors that gave the restaurant a spacious feeling, and fixtures of plants that hung from the ceiling helped add a splash of color and freshness to the pale color scheme.

Immediately the hostess approached us and informed us that they were serving their buffet. We were hesitant to opt for the buffet, but once she gestured to the abundant food options, we were sold. Perfect for students with big appetites and small budgets, the buffet offers a wide range of food items for only $11.99. Mr. Kebab’s buffet is every Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The rest of the time the restaurant offers appetizers such as stuffed grape leaves or main meals that range from hamburgers and pita bread wraps to extravagant plates. The plates are anywhere from nine to 17 dollars and are composed of many different items, such as kebabs, rice, salad, hummus and falafel.

The amount of buffet items to chose from was almost overwhelming, especially because the items were all authentic Mediterranean dishes we were not too familiar with. Luckily, our hostess was attentive and kind. She took great care to explain to us what the dishes were called and what they were made of.  It was clear that she was very knowledgeable about the items and their ingredients, she even pointed out which items were vegetarian and which were not.  She told us to not hesitate to ask her if we had any questions, and with that we were left with the decision of what to eat first.

We piled our plates with everything they could hold—pita bread, hummus, mutabbal (a dip and appetizer made of eggplant), two different types of rice, mosakaa (eggplant stew), beef kebabs, lentil soup and more. The hummus was by far the best we had tried in a long while. Hummus, a popular dip composed mainly of garbanzo beans, is hard to mess up. Even so, the hummus at Mr. Kebab was exceptional—drizzled with the perfect amount of seasonings and olive oil. It went perfectly with the soft pita bread and the crunchy falafel. Falafel is a vegetarian item made of chickpeas and, when cooked properly, it is crunchy on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside. Mr. Kebab’s falafel’s did not disappoint, in fact it complimented the rest of the items completely.

The white rice went well with the two different stews—the eggplant stew and the green bean stew with meat. The stews were only slightly spicy and were a bit too watery. The chicken itself was wonderful, it had the perfect amount of flavor and tenderness. The kebab was slightly dry, but that is often how Mediterranean style kebab’s are made. Despite the dryness, it was still quite tasty.

One of the more interesting items was a green rice with fava beans. The rice had a very strong aroma and was seasoned with fresh dill weed, which gave it a very exotic taste. It went nicely with all the other items, especially the kebab.

After sampling almost all of the buffet items, we were stuffed. The buffet is definitely filing, as most buffets often are, but it was also delicious. Each item was flavorful and high in quality. Regardless of the food coma that would ensue, we got a small plate of dessert items. The caramel custard that came in a plastic bowl was standard. The namura however was definitely an interesting dessert item. It was served in small cubes and was made of semolina and syrup. It was crunchy and chewy, with a very hard surface that was difficult to bite into, but sweet.

Seeing how much we enjoyed our hummus, the hostess gave us some hummus to go. Her consideration was thoughtful, and it made the experience all the more enjoyable. But the kindness of the service was not the only thing that will bring us back to Mr. Kebab, the food was remarkable and affordable and it will surely make regular customers out of us.