Mediterranean


Morocco Grill is a newcomer to the Duluth area, a small eatery whose menu is on a whiteboard behind a counter top. It is clean, the look inside rather pretty. The smells on entering are wonderful. The meats are delicious.

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Grilled lamb plate. Very tasty meats.

Grilled lamb plate. Very tasty meats.

I spoke a little with the man behind the counter afterwards. There isn’t much Mediterranean on the north side outside of Roswell Road and the Sandy Springs area. The one I remember is Dalia’s on Peachtree Parkway. There may be an eatery or two on Pleasant Hill Road up around St Johns as well. But there are not many, and this one is convenient to those of us who have easy access to the Duluth area.

I have not tried, but want to try their rotisserie chicken. It comes in a porcelain container with a conical lid. I saw it served from a distance and it looked good.

I have to admit a certain delight at having this kind of eating (and this authentic) so close to where I live. The smell, the music, the ambiance, the flavors. No, it’s not a fancy eatery. A lot of their business is going to be catering and take out, but convenience does count when you’re hungry.

Morocco Grill
3083 Breckinridge Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 381-3615

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Shandiz is a Middle Eastern eatery, in a location that used to house one named Baba’s Gyro and Kabab. The menu is very close to the previous restaurant, with many of the same items the old one served. This is, in my opinion, a good thing, as I liked Baba’s. I also like this restaurant as well.

Shandiz replaces Baba's

Shandiz replaces Baba’s

There is an impressive selection of various meats in Shandiz’s kababs, from ground chicken to lamb and Cornish game hen. In a meal, you’ll get a single kabab, often off the skewer (if you need huge meat servings, go somewhere else). The meats are flavorful and juicy, salads excellent. We liked the hummus and we also liked the dinner atmosphere. Baba’s at lunch could be cramped. This place at dinner was relaxing.

Good, creamy hummus can be had at Shandiz.

Good, creamy hummus can be had at Shandiz.

I don’t have pictures of the kababs. Blame me. But it is worth a try, especially at lunch, if you’re around the area.

Shandiz House of Kababs
5270 Peachtree Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
(678) 966-9994

Shandiz House of Kabob on Urbanspoon

Zoe’s Kitchen calls its cuisine “Mediterranean inspired comfort food”, but arriving at lunch hour peak to the Dunwoody location, you’ll find very little comfort in the dining experience. It is a nightmare dealing with the crush in the parking lot, the crowd in the eatery, the dirt and filth spread by overuse of the facilities, loud out of control children, dirty cramped tables shared with strangers. Since Zoe’s is a chain, I suspect they think making people eat under these conditions is a good thing, but given the alternatives in the area (isn’t Joey D’s Oak Room just across the street?), you have to ask yourself what kind of masochist you are to even brave Zoe’s.

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That’s the lunch hour rush view. Step back a bit, let the rush pass, and suddenly, private seating opens up, the efficient staff quickly clean and free space, and you can get a glimpse of what the dining experience could be when the appropriate number of folks are occupying the space. And what it is is a very mixed dining experience.

Ambience: First of all, let’s lead by saying the Dunwoody Zoe’s is pretty. It has some nice tables, nice chairs, real plates, real knives and forks. There is plenty of glass with a north side view. The eatery is much wider than it is deep, and for someone wanting some sunlight while they eat a huge bowl of salad, it has plenty of offer.

One of the best things about Zoes are the marinated beef kabobs.

One of the best things about Zoes are the marinated beef kabobs.

To the food: I had steak kabobs, grilled vegetables, and a small greek salad. The kabobs were good, with large chunks of tender, tasty marinated beef. Other items on the kabob were lacking, thin slices of vegetables that didn’t really satisfy. The grilled vegetables were a mixed bag, lacking the umami you would expect from a mix containing as many onions and mushrooms as it did. The broccoli seemed undercooked compared to the much softer vegetables in which it was found, and the texture change was jarring.

The greek salad was full of tender green leaves, and otherwise, nothing really to speak of. It lacks the flavor you would expect from a more serious attempt at Mediterranean cuisine.

If you can avoid the crush, there is some food value in Zoe’s, especially the meats. But nothing else about the food quality rises much above fast food levels, and as fast food goes, Zoes is a pricey option. It really isn’t competitive in quality with, say, the filet mignon sandwich that Joey D’s serves next door, and Joey’s is an infinitely more comfortable place to wait.

Take home: There is enough virtue in this restaurant to review it. There is not enough virtue to recommend it in a eatery rich environment like the Perimeter Mall area. There are a fistful of better dining experiences within two blocks at this price point. If you love kabobs, large servings of fresh, tender, uninspired greens, or the vague hint of ethnicity that Zoes evokes, feel free to go. If one of these appears in a suburban dining hell, there may not be a better, more restful option. But if you’re in the Perimeter Mall area and considering this restaurant, for heaven’s sake, avoid this place during the lunch rush.

Zoe’s Kitchen
1165 Perimeter Center West
Atlanta, GA 30338
(770) 512-8637

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Colossus was a surprise to us, offering far better Greek food than we expected. Clearly a superior choice for dinner, I’m very tempted to claim it’s the best Greek within half an hour of Snellville. As our overall experience with Greek cuisine is neither broad nor exhaustive, I’m also happy saying take any of my claims with a grain of salt. Still, I’d have no qualms taking out of town guests to this restaurant.

It’s perhaps the largest restaurant near the corner of Five Forks Trickum and Rockbridge Road, on the right as you’re heading south down Five Forks, and located a bit before the intersection. Inside, the restaurant is longish, as opposed to square. Staff were wearing black tops and the men were wearing baseball caps when we arrived. There are tables and booths, and as the eatery is thin and one side has good windows, if you love light you can get plenty of it.

really good.

My wife ordered pizza, I ordered the Greek plate and my daughter ordered the Moussaka. We ordered salads and appetizers, some fried zucchini. The fried zucchini was excellent.

The Greek plate is a tasty meat paradise.

Moussaka. The hit of the meal.

Of the entrées, the pizza had no crust to speak of, except at the edges, just a floppy “suburban special”. But the Greek food was superior and impressive. The Moussaka was the hit of the table, something I expect we’ll be ordering again and again. The plates were enormous and we took back food from almost every entrée we ordered.

In conclusion? This is a place we’re likely to go back to. Overall, we were impressed by what we ate. This restaurant is a keeper.

Colossus Family Restaurant
5385 Five Forks Trickum Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30047
(770) 923-9852

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It’s a hole in the wall at the corner of Five Forks and Sugarloaf Parkway, in the same location as the now closed Totori Fresh Grill. It’s pretty, just recently opened, and already police are stopping there, on cycles no less.

Once inside, you order at a countertop from a whiteboard menu above the counter. To the left of the counter is a pastry display.

Athens Grill has a pretty basic menu: gyros and kofta kabobs and souvlaki steaks, very similar to the online menus I can find for the Loganville Athens Grill. Same owners? Perhaps, but there is no mention of any chain on the take out menus.

Souvlaki steak platter, extra salad and no fries. Like a cheese steak in a pita.

Kofta kababs, with fries.

Super gyro platter, extra salad.

#1 (gyro) with fries.

There are sweets as well. Bird’s nests, little roses, baklava.

Bird’s nest upper left and lower right. Little roses, upper middle. Baklava on the upper right.

My family preferred the little roses. Not too sweet, they said.

Athens Grill
1430 Five Forks Trickum Road, Suite 260
Lawrenceville GA 30044
(770)-277-7008

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Some of the best things I’ve put in my mouth over the past couple months are the Cornish Kababs at Baba’s Gyro and Kabab, the Norcross version.

Tender, flavorful, they make you realize the mild taste of chicken can be supercharged in the right hands. Don’t be surprised if the manager drops a small shaker bottle of sumac by your plate. He surely did mine.

“It’s not a spice, but a flavor enhancer.”

The day I showed I arrived just after a lunch peak, and the place was packed. It has wifi, and people were there with laptops, working remotely. Prices run into the low teens for the more interesting lunch entrees, but don’t let that stop you. There is a world of flavor here.

Baba’s Gyro and Kabab
5270 Peachtree Pkwy
Norcross, GA 30092
(678) 966-9994

Baba's Gyro and Kabab on Urbanspoon

Note: Watching tweets here on a Kindle led me eventually to be interviewed :-#. Whether that interview ever sees the light of day, I’ll probably never know, but in the voice of Yoda, cool that was.

Dalia’s Grill is a Mediterranean restaurant, found roughly at the corner of Peachtree Parkway and Holcombe Bridge Road. The strip mall in which Dalia’s is found has things like an IHOP and a Chik-Fil-A, and is opposite a Target and Publix. Dalia’s is not that easy to see, but if you can find the sign to a local Mellow Mushroom, then walk under the sign. Dalia’s will be right in front of you.

This restaurant has something of a history in the Atlanta metro area (see here and here), having been preceeded by Joha Grill and a version in Alpharetta. I recall trying Joha Grill, and the same older man who cooked kababs at Joha is definitely manning the burners here. Just, this time, he has substantially more help.

Meditarranean cuisine, with its emphasis on meats and vegetables, fits well with what I can eat. I can control the amount of carbs I eat, and I don’t have to eat a lot of carbs to have a meal. That said, the family that runs Dalia’s has a knack with chickpeas. Their falafel is well respected, and the spices they threw into the chickpeas I had were notable.

Also notable that day was the lamb shank special they served. Dalia’s is good with more exotic meats such as lamb, the rich selection of salads, the choice. You can eat fast here, by grabbing a couple of salads – they’re laid out almost buffet style – or you can take your time, let them grill your meat and have a kabab or gyro along with some green veggies.

Recommended, a true Atlanta original.

Dalia’s Grill
6135 Peachtree Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
(770) 687-2448

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