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Sahara Mediterranean Restaurant: Authentic Middle Eastern
Cuisine: Mediterranean and Middle Eastern
When you think of a dish two, three or even four days after you've eaten it, you know you've found something special. This is what happened to us after dining at Sahara Restaurant with the Baba Ghanouj and the Falafel. If you love Mediterranean food, Sahara is the place for you. From the minute one walks through the wooden doors, one can feel the unique atmosphere of the restaurant. The decor and music are Middle Eastern and soothing, and your nose is tickled by the mysterious spices emerging from the kitchen. Seated at a comfortable table inside or enjoying the street view at an outdoor table, one can sample the numerous delights chef/owner Maan prepares from scratch using the freshest ingredients available. Once the owner of King David's Restaurant in Ithaca, Mann has opened a unique gem in the heart of restaurant row. If you are unfamiliar with the Mediterranean dishes on the menu, the knowledgeable wait staff is available to answer any questions you may have, or make suggestions.

We chose to sit inside where we could enjoy the intimate atmosphere of the dining room, and watch as delicious plates of food were taken by us for the outside diners to enjoy. There were many choices on the menu to satisfy any appetite, and we chose from a variety of plates that would give us a sample of the different flavors and tastes that make Middle Eastern food so rich and varied. We were not disappointed.

  • Baba Ghanouj - Highly recommended - This Baba Ghanouj is simply dipping heaven. Excellent on its own or as an accompaniment with the other dishes. Garlic and tahini mixed with the eggplant and lemon make it smooth on the tongue and outstanding. A must-try for any meal.
  • Falafel - Highly recommended - crispy fried balls made from ground chick peas and spices with a moist interior. Comes with a creamy yogurt sauce, or try it with the Baba Ghanouj and warm pita bread. A delight for the senses.
  • Tabbouleh - a combination of cous-cous, spices, fresh herbs and tomatoes. Excellent on the palate. Refreshing on its own or as an addition to the falafel and baba ghanouj.
  • Shawarma - thinly sliced beef tenderloin (or chicken) marinated in a vinagerette dressing and spices, grilled with onion and tomato. Served with rice, yogurt sauce and pickles. The dish is similar to a stew, moist and tender meat melts in one's mouth, with mysterious spices that play on the tongue. The yogurt sauce gives it a full bodied flavor. A delicious adventure for the senses.
  • Sahara Combination Plate - vegetable skewers, Kafta, Shish Tawook and Shish Kabob. The vegetable skewers are al dente, bursting with moistness and flavor. A combination of onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers, they are grilled in a way that makes even the onion as succulent as a piece of fruit. The Shish Tawook is tender chicken breasts marinated in fresh garlic and olive oil with a dash of red pepper. The meat is moist and tender and leaves a delicious lingering taste on the tongue thanks to the red pepper. The Shish Kabobs are comprised of beef tips marinated in spices and olive oil. Tender and succulent. Crispy outside with a hint of heat that brings the dish alive. Finishing off the plate is a combination of rice and angel hair pasta making this side dish an extraordinary change from the traditional side dishes of rice. Delicate and lively.

    In all, the experience at Sahara exceeded our expectations, and we will be returning there often to sample some of the other items on the menu - lamb, grape leaves, the vegetarian plate, while still indulging in the dishes that enamored our palates, especially the Baba Ghanouj. The prices are more than reasonable, and there is enough variety to satisfy everyone. Sahara, for any fan of Mediterranean food or those wanting to try it for the first time, is a must for the ambiance, the senses, and most importantly the stomach.

    Insider Tip: Mediterranean Tour - lets you sample three Appetizers at a lower cost, combined with the Sahara Combination Plate you have an inexpensive and yummy sampler of Mediterranean food that will feed two people. $18 for Tour, $15 for the Combo Plate - both for $33.

  • Apps: $6 - $7
  • Salads: $8 - $9
  • Pitas, Gyros and Wraps: $7 - $9
  • Entrees: $14 - $20, most are $16

    Sahara Mediterranean Restaurant is located at 118 N Aurora St, Ithaca, NY
    Sahara is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.

    Reviewed June, 2011

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