Take a trip to the Middle East at Sahara Cafe

by Tallahassee Table
For nearly 25 years, the Tallahassee restaurant has been a source for Greek & Lebanese fare

It had been too long since we visited Tallahassee’s Sahara Greek & Lebanese Cafe. The restaurant has been open for nearly 25 years and gracious owner Sophia Al-Siroa or Mama Sophia still does a wonderful job of serving her customers top-notch homemade Middle Eastern dishes.

Sahara serves an extensive selection of dishes for takeout or dining in. Photo credit / Sahara Greek & Lebanese Cafe

We went with friends on a recent Friday night and savored dinners of gyro wraps and platters, chicken shawarma, spanakopita (spinach pie) and three types of fries (OK, we got carried away).

The spanakopita has been offered as a special and I hope Sophia keeps it on the menu. Slices were light and crisp with a flavorful spinach filling.

Diners can order a gyro as a platter or a wrap. Photo / Tallahassee Table

The gyro meat is a lean blend of ground lamb and beef mixed together with Greek spices – some of the best we’ve had. You can order gyro as a pita wrap or platter with two sides. My friend raved about her chicken Shawarma, marinated in spices and cooked on the rotisserie.

Chicken Shawarma is another fan favorite, also served as a platter or wrap. Photo / Tallahassee Table

Sahara has many fine sides, including salad and rice and their addictive fries. We shared well-seasoned Greek fries, which are tossed with an aromatic dressing of garlic, lemon and olive oil, feta cheese and diced tomatoes; Lebanese fries drizzled with a spicy garlic aioli; and regular French fries, which were also light and crunchy, golden brown.

Falafels, grape leaves, kebabs, Greek salad and pulled lamb, which I must try next, are among Sahara’s made-from-scratch fare.

For a sweet finish, we split orders of luscious pistachio baklava (it’s also made with walnuts).

Service was also terrific at Sahara. The restaurant offers table service from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights during dinner, and our server was very pleasant and helpful. Sophia stopped by our table as well and asked us how we liked the spanakopita, which we heartily endorsed.

If you haven’t been to Sahara in some time, it’s worth the trip.

If you go …

Diners order at the counter during lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 4 on Thursday and Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Sahara is at 1135 Apalachee Pkwy.; 850- 656-1800. They also have a location in the Atlanta area.

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