After our Georgia trek on Sunday, Glynda and I decided to get a bite of dinner. I had seen that a new place had opened on Haywood Road that looked interesting, so we drove by. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sundays. So, Monday on my way home late from work, I stopped by Habiba Mediterranean Restaurant for dinner. I was glad I did.
Habiba opened late June in a building previously occupied by a wings place. I think some other restaurant had tried to make a go of it here, too. The architecture is a bit unusual, but the interior has been redone with Middle Eastern touches. Fabrics hang from the ceiling, and dark tones dominate.
The place is rather large. There were several more dining rooms that I couldn’t see from my seat. The outdoor patio is set up as a hookah bar.
When I first arrived there were two diners out on the patio, but no one else inside. Another couple came in later, and part-way through my meal my good friends Karen, Herman, Kyle, and Meghan came in for dinner. A couple of other groups arrive while we were there.
As the name suggests, there is lots of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare. However, there are some surprises on the menu, too. Mixed in with the tabouli, kabobs, and falafal one can find a Mediterranean quesadilla and tandori. There is a section of salads and appetizers, ranging from about $5 to $8, and a section of “entrees” – lighter dishes such as wraps and sandwiches, for around $8 – $10. The dinner menu features kabobs and the aforementioned tandori for around $10 – $15, depending on the choice of meat. There is also a selection of desserts, and a list of flavors and prices available for the hookahs.
Prices look quite reasonable for the items on the menu. For $35 per person one can get a five course meal with items selected from each section of the menu. That was tempting, but I didn’t think I could handle it this evening.
I started with pita and hummus. Overall the hummus was good, but there was a touch of bitterness that I couldn’t quite reconcile. It looked like there was lots of paprika, or harissa, or something like that. It wasn’t bad, but the flavor was just a bit surprising. I guess I’ve just gotten used to either plain hummus, or one of those flavored things you get at the supermarket.
For my main course I ordered the mixed grill tandori. These were cubes of chicken, beef, and lamb marinated in yogurt and other spices before cooking. These were served with rice pilaf and vegetables. I took one bite, and the flavors were amazing. There was a savory flavor that’s hard to describe, but there was also a bit of heat that would sneak up on you. It was one of the best dishes I’ve had in awhile.
I decided I had room for dessert, so I ordered the rosewater ice cream with pistachios. It was quite tasty.
My friends arrived about the same time as my dessert. I slid down and joined them, then ordered a martini while I sat with them for awhile.
They ordered an appetizer sampler platter, and reported that it was all excellent. Three of them also got the mixed grill tandori, but Kyle got the Jerusalem kabobs. The consensus was everything was excellent.
Service was friendly and efficient. It looked like there was probably more staff on hand than diners needing attention. The owner came out occasionally to check on us.
Habiba made a great first impression. The food was fantastic, and prices are quite reasonable. I definitely want to come back. My biggest concern about a niche place like this – especially one that takes over a troubled location – is that they have the stamina to stick around. I hope they are able to maintain the quality of food and still turn a decent profit. I would like to have many more meals here.