Sunday, September 25, 2011

Habibi's Cafe and Market

It was much to our surprise when I discovered an Arabic restaurant in Myrtle Beach. Technically I think it was Lebanese and it was a cafe/market.  It looked like a little ethnic grocery store with a kitchen.

There were only a couple aisles but they were packed with all kinds of Arabic foods...olives, olive oils, grape leaves, nuts, beans, grains, cookies, candies, and many other things I didn't even know what they were. There was also a freezer case filled with meat including whole sheep heads and refrigerator cases with cheeses and other dairy products and drinks.

We picked out a couple Lebanese sodas. It was actually a non-alcoholic malted beverage, one with peach flavor, the other raspberry.  Very sweet and bubbly and perfect for lunch on a hot day!

We decided to order a Vegetarian Plate and a Kabob Combo Plate to share. This way we get to try a little of everything.  Both plates came with fresh warm pita bread, hummus, and baba ganouj topped with olive oil and a red spice (perhaps paprika?).  Hummus is made from chickpeas and baba ganouj is made from eggplants. I've had baba ganouj before and wasn't very impressed.  This baba ganouj however was amazing! I could've eaten it all day long.  The hummus was awesome too.  Both very creamy and spicy (not hot-spicy but spice-spicy).

falafel plate

The veggie plate came with 5 falafels which are ground chickpeas rolled into a ball and fried. These were very crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.  The combo plate had chicken, beef, and lamb meat.  All of which was very juicy and tender and flavorful.  My fave was definitely the lamb!

kabob plate

Each plate was also served with lettuce and tomato and a tabouleh salad with some kind of spicy red sauce on the side.  Tabouleh usually consists of a grain called bulgur, tomato, cucmber, parsley, sometimes mint, garlic, onion and seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice.  One of my Arabic friends made some for me before that was pretty good.  This version seemed to have a lot more parsley in it.  It was a little tangy and vinegary but very tasty as well.  Its served cold and its very refreshing to have with the hot meat or the spicy sauce.

very pretty murals painted on the walls

We found out from the owner that this place had been open for three years and is the only place like it in all of Myrtle Beach.  Us white folks definitely got a few stares from the Arabics coming in and out of there as we were the only white folks around.  And I'm sure they don't see too many others venture in there too often either. But the owner was very friendly and open to share his story with us and welcomed us back.  He seemed very appreciative of our business and our adventure to find them.

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