Lunches We Love

Maroosh of the Middle East

September 2019

Maroosh is not a restaurant you come across accidentally, unless you happen to be traveling westbound on Valencia Avenue, and glance to the right. We first noticed it at night, when the upstairs balcony was lit up like a secret, cozy sentinel.

Inside, the impression is all Turkish – largely thanks to several paintings that depict men wearing the Fez (made popular by the Turkey-based Ottoman Empire) or the turban of that imperial court. Even the tea glasses, which sit in brass holders, are Turkish.

The food, however, is pan-middle eastern, which means dishes like falafel with tahini sauce, lamb kabobs, baba ghanoush, and hummus. That is what the staff insists, anyway, despite other dishes like bamia, a stew from the Turkish heartland, and kibbeh, which is big in Turkey (though also found in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.) It dubs its food as “traditional Lebanese cuisine.”

Appetizer of hummus, grape leaves, fried kibbeh and salad

We were lured to Maroosh for their executive lunch, which for $16 offers you an excellent romaine lettuce salad with feta cheese, tomatoes and olives, a plate with hummus, baba ghanoush, almond rice, lamb sausage and fried kibbeh. This is followed by baklava (with a tad of cinnamon) and accompanied by pita bread and hot tea.

“Basically, it’s Lebanese food, but we made a fusion as a Mediterranean restaurant,” says Frederick Olsson, our server who was also a former manager. “People like it because it’s like your mother is cooking for you. Yes, there are some Turkish flavors, but only if you are Arabic will you notice the difference.”

Chicken kabob with marinated grilled chicken, served with onions, vegetables and mediterranean rice

223 Valencia Ave. 305.476.9800