Egyptian fare shines through a crowded menu

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by Eric Ginsburg

How many Egyptian restaurants offer nacho cheese?

The thing is, Sarah’s Kabob Shop is not a typical restaurant. Located next to the state license-plate agency in a strip mall with several other international restaurants on West Market Street in Greensboro, the Middle Eastern joint with gyros, shawarma and kabobs also makes a strong play for American cuisine.

Want a Buffalo chicken or pastrami sub? How about Jamaican-jerk chicken wings, mozzarella sticks or cheese fries? Or maybe a cheeseburger with American cheese, a shrimp basket with tartar sauce or homemade French fries? It’s all here.

Sarah’s Kabob Shop recognizes that an unfortunately high number of locals would prefer the convenience of quick American comfort food to something more fitting of a place with Egyptian art on the walls. But the restaurant’s ability to bolster its menu with atypical offerings doesn’t mean that the traditional fare suffers.

The most common order among the patrons here on a recent off-night — many of them lone men chowing down in front of a television playing CNN — was still the handful of platters Sarah’s is most known for. This is the type of place where hummus and cucumber sauce are sold by the pound. The flavorful shawarma plate, for example, mixed with grilled onions, peppers and a healthy dose of tomatoes served on a pillow of rice. Or the enviable mixed platter, which comes with one chicken and one beef kabob atop fresh pita.

The mixed platter. Top: The shawarma plate.
The mixed platter. Top: The shawarma plate.

The large seating area, which includes a table capable of hosting 12, and the fact that Sarah’s is counter-service only suggests lunchtime slams, but the restaurant also offers delivery.

The halal chicken is well worth it, though the juicy beef kabob is superior and the shawarma plate may top both. Most places serve shawarma in a wrap, as fast food, but it is better as a platter, spicy and mixed with small pieces of tomato that make it seem more Egyptian than Greek or Palestinian. It’s practically another dish altogether, in a good way.

It’s easy to miss the falafel on pita on the extensive menu, one of several vegetarian items. Falafel also comes as a part of the veggie combo deal with Greek salad, hummus, pickles and pita as well. And though the gyro looks good enough to hold its own, there is a platter option that involves a hulking salad to accompany it.

While there may be something for everyone here, it would be a mistake to skip the shawarma, kabobs, gyros or salads. But for those who must stray, at least go for the Mediterranean burger and wedge fries. Don’t miss the firm baklava as a dessert either way, though one piece is large enough to split among two people.

The menu variety may help bring Sarah’s Kabob Shop more mass appeal, but considering the dearth of Middle Eastern options on the west side of Greensboro, its core courses should easily make it standout. More importantly, the quality of the food puts it on the level with the city’s best fare from the region overall.

Visit Sarah’s Kabob Shop at 5553 W. Market St. (GSO) or at sarahskabobshopgreensboro.com.

  • On Fourth St in Winston, the restaurant that was there before Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe used to serve quick, American food in addition to Mediterranean fare. Being located near office buildings, as well as being a block away from the bus station, that restaurant had something for everyone. It certainly catered to all classes in a way that Mooney’s doesn’t.