August 28, 2020

Cleveland's 21 Essential Middle Eastern Restaurants

There's really nothing like some great Middle Eastern food. The richness of flavors, combined with fresh vegetables and spices makes for the perfect meal. And luckily for us Clevelanders, there are plenty of great options in town. From the empire behind Aladdin's and their other outputs like Sittoo's, Boaz Cafe and Taza to local favorites like Ferris Shwarma, Nate's Deli, Frank's Falafel House and Maha's Falafil, to new and innovative spots like Zhug, there's really just an embarrassment of riches. Here's what we consider the 21 best in town.

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 Zhug
12413 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights
With the unveiling of this new venture, Doug Katz has created a new gravitational center for this side of town, attracting diners with such force that many get turned away. If your idea of Middle Eastern food consists largely of tightly wrapped falafel sandwiches, shawarma carved from a twirling spit and grilled beef shish-kabob on a bed of rice, Zhug will expand your culinary horizons in a million little ways. With its dazzling small plates, meticulously crafted cocktails and ripped-from-Tel Aviv-vibe, this cosmopolitan eatery upends every Cleveland dining convention.
Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Zhug

12413 Cedar Rd., Cleveland Heights

With the unveiling of this new venture, Doug Katz has created a new gravitational center for this side of town, attracting diners with such force that many get turned away. If your idea of Middle Eastern food consists largely of tightly wrapped falafel sandwiches, shawarma carved from a twirling spit and grilled beef shish-kabob on a bed of rice, Zhug will expand your culinary horizons in a million little ways. With its dazzling small plates, meticulously crafted cocktails and ripped-from-Tel Aviv-vibe, this cosmopolitan eatery upends every Cleveland dining convention.

Photo by Emanuel Wallace
 Taza
Multiple Locations
Another output from the owners of Aladdin’s, this local favorite, where kabobs are grilled over charcoal and you can watch warm pita bake in a Lebanese stone oven, makes you feel like you’ve been whisked away to the Middle East. An upscale, opulent decor adds a touch of authenticity to the proceedings, where colorful textiles offer a warm embrace. Hummus is spiked with spice, pita is fresh as can be, and a well-rounded mix of meze — items meant to be shared — is at the ready to bring the table together. A vegetarian’s paradise, the menu has no shortage of meat-free options, from the perfectly crisp falafel to the garden-fresh salads.
Photo via Taza Cleveland/Facebook

Taza

Multiple Locations

Another output from the owners of Aladdin’s, this local favorite, where kabobs are grilled over charcoal and you can watch warm pita bake in a Lebanese stone oven, makes you feel like you’ve been whisked away to the Middle East. An upscale, opulent decor adds a touch of authenticity to the proceedings, where colorful textiles offer a warm embrace. Hummus is spiked with spice, pita is fresh as can be, and a well-rounded mix of meze — items meant to be shared — is at the ready to bring the table together. A vegetarian’s paradise, the menu has no shortage of meat-free options, from the perfectly crisp falafel to the garden-fresh salads.

Photo via Taza Cleveland/Facebook
 Yemen Gate
11901 Lorain Ave., Cleveland
Yemeni food has been a very welcome arrival to the Cleveland food scene. The fahsah, saltah and rashoush are all wonderful dishes but you really can’t go wrong with what you order here. 
Photo by Douglas Trattner

Yemen Gate

11901 Lorain Ave., Cleveland

Yemeni food has been a very welcome arrival to the Cleveland food scene. The fahsah, saltah and rashoush are all wonderful dishes but you really can’t go wrong with what you order here.

Photo by Douglas Trattner
 Sittoo’s
Multiple Locations
Another spot from the folks behind Aladdin’s? When you do Middle Eastern food as good as they do, why not. Sittoo’s is a fast casual restaurant known for their pita sandwiches and salads, making it the perfect lunch spot whether you’re downtown, in North Olmsted or Parma.
Photo via Scene Archives

Sittoo’s

Multiple Locations

Another spot from the folks behind Aladdin’s? When you do Middle Eastern food as good as they do, why not. Sittoo’s is a fast casual restaurant known for their pita sandwiches and salads, making it the perfect lunch spot whether you’re downtown, in North Olmsted or Parma.

Photo via Scene Archives
 Ferris Shwarma
13507 Lakewood Heights Blvd., Lakewood
Their website says they have “the most awesome shwarma in Cleveland.” Who are we to argue? This menu is very straightforward with only a few options but when you do something so well, no need to mess with what is working.
Photo via @Arabs_In_Cleveland/Instagram

Ferris Shwarma

13507 Lakewood Heights Blvd., Lakewood

Their website says they have “the most awesome shwarma in Cleveland.” Who are we to argue? This menu is very straightforward with only a few options but when you do something so well, no need to mess with what is working.

Photo via @Arabs_In_Cleveland/Instagram
 Oasis Bakery and Eatery
13614 Detroit Ave., Lakewood
This Middle Eastern bakery and eatery in the heart of Lakewood is one of our favorites around. Their oven baked savory pies are out of this world.
Photo via Oasis Bakery and Eatery/Facebook

Oasis Bakery and Eatery

13614 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

This Middle Eastern bakery and eatery in the heart of Lakewood is one of our favorites around. Their oven baked savory pies are out of this world.

Photo via Oasis Bakery and Eatery/Facebook
 Anatolia Cafe
2270 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights
A little bit Greek, a little bit Middle Eastern and perhaps even slightly northern Indian, the names, ingredients and flavor notes of Anatolia's authentic Turkish cuisine will strike familiar chords for veteran tabletop travelers. "Don't-miss" dishes include sleek and smoky baba ghannouj and the lamb-and-beef doner kebab.
Photo via Anatolia Cafe/Facebook

Anatolia Cafe

2270 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights

A little bit Greek, a little bit Middle Eastern and perhaps even slightly northern Indian, the names, ingredients and flavor notes of Anatolia's authentic Turkish cuisine will strike familiar chords for veteran tabletop travelers. "Don't-miss" dishes include sleek and smoky baba ghannouj and the lamb-and-beef doner kebab.

Photo via Anatolia Cafe/Facebook
 Falafel Xpress
14877 Detroit Ave., Lakewood
“The food was amazing and service was super friendly! The prices were very fair and the food was quick and delicious. We got the vegetarian and the chicken shawarma and the fries. Everything was phenomenal. We will definitely be back.,” E. W. on Yelp.
Photo via  Falafel Xpress/Facebook

Falafel Xpress

14877 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

“The food was amazing and service was super friendly! The prices were very fair and the food was quick and delicious. We got the vegetarian and the chicken shawarma and the fries. Everything was phenomenal. We will definitely be back.,” E. W. on Yelp.

Photo via Falafel Xpress/Facebook
 Joe’s Deli
19215 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River
Joe’s is a comfortable, tidy restaurant with a large menu of homey standards, including excellent corned-beef sandwiches, homemade soups, and freshly made Middle Eastern specialties.
Photo via Joe’s Deli Lakewood/Facebook

Joe’s Deli

19215 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River

Joe’s is a comfortable, tidy restaurant with a large menu of homey standards, including excellent corned-beef sandwiches, homemade soups, and freshly made Middle Eastern specialties.

Photo via Joe’s Deli Lakewood/Facebook
Frank’s Falafel House
1823 West 65th St., Cleveland
Frank’s has long been known to have some of the best shawarma in town. If you haven’t been, check  it out.
Photo via Frank’s Falafel House/Facebook

Frank’s Falafel House

1823 West 65th St., Cleveland

Frank’s has long been known to have some of the best shawarma in town. If you haven’t been, check it out.

Photo via Frank’s Falafel House/Facebook