Sahara Mediterranean Cafe

October 30, 2010 at 3:10 pm 6 comments

Recently opened  on the little strip of shops at 51st and Oak, Saraha is very popular with the UMKC crowd. Adding a bit more ethnicity to the standard choices of pizza, subs and Chinese on that block, students have been flocking here for hummus, gryo sandwiches, shawarma, and kabobs.

Sahara is in the old Russell Stovers store, and I think they kept the same commercial ceiling lighting that existed before, which does nothing to enhance the restaurant’s rather drab appearance. The owners took a stab at decorating, using a bright saffron to freshen the walls and hanging a few ornaments, but the decor is definitely more suited to a quick meal or grab ‘n go rather than a relaxing dining experience.

Diners order at a counter from a huge cardboard wall menu that has pictures of all the offerings, and a server brings the food to your table a la Spin Pizza’s model.

But, the food’s decent. Plentiful and fresh, if not exciting.  We tried the lentil soup, which was more flavorful than it looked. The appetizer platter featured falafel, hummus, baba ghannouj (eggplant dip), dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) and pita. The baba ghannouj was our favorite, though the falafel’s inside was light, almost airy, a pleasing contrast to the fried exterior.

We also had a side of tabouli. It was heavy on the parsley with not much bulgur, which is usually the dominant ingredient in the dish. Cucumbers and tomatoes added the crunch.

Saraha is a welcome addition to the area. It will fit student budgets and offers a healthy alternative to dorm food. I know some businessmen who also enjoy it for the large portions and quick service. But a cozy date night? Not so much.

Sahara on Urbanspoon


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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kathy  |  October 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Tabouli that is mostly parsley is typical of Lebanon, Palestine, etc. Though not in the US, where a bulgar-heavy version has predominated.

    Otherwise, the sandwiches at Sahara are quite tasty. The portion sizes are enormous (too big in fact). The Shrak chicken – which is wrapped in a crepe not a pita – is a favorite although I have decided not to order one to go anymore, as I end up eating the whole thing because it is so yummy and then regret it!

    • 2. Mary Bloch  |  October 30, 2010 at 6:11 pm

      good point, I guess it’s just not something I’d order again!

  • 3. hhs  |  October 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Nice review! You might want to edit it though to correct the spelling of the restaurant’s name though, so they can get the benefit of this positive review through Urbanspoon, Google, etc. Just a thought.

    • 4. Mary Bloch  |  October 31, 2010 at 7:56 am

      Thanks for catching the typo, I appreciate the save!

  • 5. foodsnob  |  November 1, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Just and fair review. Holyland Cafe has the same type of tabooli salad and I’ve grown quite accustomed to it and now crave it on occasion. And, though not a cozy atmosphere at Saraha at least it is bright , fresh, and clean looking. I really enjoyed the falafel.

    • 6. Mary Bloch  |  November 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      I agree, Jan. The falafel was outstanding.


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