There are many restaurants offering Middle Eastern cuisine, but Jaffa provides some of the freshest ingredients with a slightly different flavor blend than those you find in similar restaurants. The blend of flavor is less peppery, with a more complex mélange of spices. It is well worth the trip; your taste buds will thank you for it.
Owner Sam Alsalhi is from Jordan, and he has brought many family recipes to the table. He grew up in the restaurant business from the time he was a child, as his father still owns a restaurant overseas. Locally, Alsalhi worked in a number of restaurants until he decided to open his own with the help of his wife, who makes sure all the dishes are “just right”.
“What makes our spices different is that the base is more spice, and less pepper,” explained Alsalhi. “And our flavors are richer because we do not use pre-made meat. It is not pressed hamburger meat, but it is a fresh blend of chicken and lamb. Most gyros meat is very fatty and the pepper is used to cover the oily flavor. Since we do not use fatty meat, the natural juices of the meat come out and blends with our shawarma spicing.”
Although shawarma has been around for a long time as a Middle Eastern street food, it has just started to gain traction in the United States. Although each individual chef has their own secret something that they put in their shawarma, most are a mixture of sweet paprika, allspice, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, onion, ground ginger, and sometimes Aleppo pepper or hot pepper flakes for heat.
Jaffa offers chicken, lamb, and vegetable based shawarma flavored dishes. Some of their top sellers are shish kabob, chicken kabobs, lamb chops, marinated steak bites, a mixed grill with chicken and lamb, and the Jaffa platter which offers a bite of just about every meat option. Each of these items from their grill are served with soup, salad, and rice.
Lighter plates are also available. These include chicken shawarma, lamb shawarma, gyros, falafel or fired veggies. And they have sandwiches. Some are made with pita bread, and some are made with shrak bread, which is a bit more like a flaky tortilla. Favorites include the well-known gyros sandwich, and shawarma chicken or lamb. And for the vegetarian, there is a very tasty falafel wrap.
A number of salad options are on the menu, including Arabic salad, Greek salad, Tabbouli, fattoush, cucumber salad, tahini salad, and arugula salad.
Appetizers include hummus, mudammas made from navy beans, falafel bites, baba ghanouj made from pureed eggplant, stuffed grape leaves, and fried kebbhi (meatballs).
The décor is simple. It looks like a place to get take-out, but the food is far above the plain look. And since just about every dining service will bring Jaffa to your door, you can serve it elegantly at home. Whether you dine in, take out, or have it delivered, Alsalhi makes sure his food presentation is a step above.
Jaffa Middle Eastern Cusine
206 North Thompson Lane, Suite D
Phone: (615) 900-3126
Hours: Monday through Thursday, and Saturday, 11:00 am until 9:00 pm
Friday, 11:00 am until 1:00 pm, and 2:00 pm until 9:00 pm