El Basha Mediterranean Grill is an inconspicuous place, but those who find it will likely enjoy it. The small restaurant at 75th and Pacific serves expertly prepared Mediterranean food at reasonable prices in humble surroundings. I visited El Basha on a Saturday night with my family. We started with Baba Ghanuje appetizer ($5.50), featuring smoked eggplant pureed with sesame, garlic, and lemon juice, and served with pita bread. I’ve had this dish at a few other places, and this was my favorite version so far, with a strong lemon flavor. I ordered the Falafel Wrap ($5.99), with falafel patties, salad greens and tahini sauce in a pita. Falafel is sometimes overwhelmed by sauce, but this version was a bit drier, and had a nice fresh taste. My wife tried the Gyro Combo ($7.99), which came with soup or salad. She opted for lentil soup, which offered a good blend of bean and cilantro flavors. Her gyro was piled high with well-seasoned meat and a tangy sauce. This is not a dish for neat freaks; it required many napkins and considerable effort, but was satisfying throughout. Our hungry 13-year-old son went with the Kafta Wrap Combo ($7.99). His salad was very ordinary, but the Kafta featured ground beef grilled on a skewer and then wrapped along with hummus, parsley, onions and tomato. The meat was sweet and nicely flavored, and he enjoyed it. Our 10-year-old son could not be coaxed into trying anything new. Instead, he opted for the Basha Burger and fries ($5.50) from the short kids’ menu. It was a hamburger patty on a pita, and tasted about like you’d imagine. Other choices on the short menu include Beef Shawarma with marinated beef, tahini sauce, tomatoes, and onions; Chicken Shawarma; Hummus Wrap; and Veggie Wrap. All are priced in the $6-$8 range. There are five salads available, including the Taboule with parsley, tomatoes, green onion and cracked wheat dressed with lemon juice; and the Lebanese Fattoush with romaine lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber with lemon herb dressing. We were too full for dessert, but El Basha offers Baklava, Rice Pudding, and Kinafa. The latter can also spelled “Kanafeh,” according to some online research, and is an Arabic sweet made of fine vermicelli-like pastry. Desserts are $4. We paid about $38 for an appetizer, four entrees and soft drinks. Diners order at the counter, and food is brought to your table. Beverages are limited to tea and soda. Hookah pipes can also be rented for use on the small outdoor patio. The décor at El Basha is simple and frugal. The yellow dining room is decorated with artwork from several Mediterranean cultures. A TV high on a wall above the dining room was distracting diners with the Brendan Frasier movie The Mummy. Regional music would be a much better atmospheric choice. El Basha is located on a busy street, but is easily overlooked. I have driven past it dozens of times and had never noticed its small sign before our visit. It’s a restaurant in the middle of the local dining spectrum. The menu might be unfamiliar enough to scare away those looking for a burger, but it’s not exotic enough to attract those seeking new ethnic dining adventures. Those who know about it, however, seem to like it. Every table was filled during our visit, and El Basha receives high praise on Yelp and other online review sites. I had a few minutes before my family arrived, so I did a little shopping at Spirit World in the same strip mall. When I mentioned to an employee that I would be dining at El Basha, he raved about the Beef Shawarma and recommended a bottle of wine to accompany it. Since El Basha lacks a liquor license, he said they allow diners to bring in their own drinks. El Basha is not a place to explore global dining trends or impress a date. It is a good choice for a solid meal with friends and family. You’ve probably had these dishes before, but they are well-prepared and reasonably priced, and there is always room in the local dining scene for that kind of restaurant. El Basha Mediterranean Grill is located at 7503 Pacific St. Its hours are Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Call 402.934.6266 or visit elbashagrill.com for more information.

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