Mediterranean Restaurants in Raleigh
Americans have a real soft spot for Mediterranean restaurants, and Raleigh North Carolina is no exception. We must have close to a hundred restaurants that can be considered Mediterranean in the Raleigh Durham Chapel Hill area, and that’s not counting French and Italian.
When looking for Mediterranean restaurants, usually people are looking for something other than French or Italian, since those are so distinct and well known they make up their own large category. But Greek, Lebanese, Turkish, Morrocan, Egyptian and Spanish cuisines all share common elements.
The Mediterranean region overlaps with the Middle East. Did you know that the Moors (peoples originating from North Africa) ruled Spain for 700 years, (711 – 1492) and the Ottomans ruled most of the Mediterranean from Greece all away around the sea to Algeria for another 700 years (1299 – 1923). The Greeks and the Romans (Italians) also dominated large areas of the Middle East and North Africa in earlier eras.
Eat Healthy Mediterranean Foods
The Mediterranean Diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, peas and beans (legumes) and grains.
It also contains moderate amounts of chicken and fish. There is little red meat and most fat
is unsaturated and comes from olive oil and nuts.
So if you’re looking for Mediterranean restaurants, will it matter if you go to a Greek Restaurant, a Lebanese Restaurant, or a Middle Eastern Restaurant? You’ll have to look at each menu to see if they serve what you like to eat.
Greek Fiesta’s name says it’s a Greek restaurant, but we are solidly within the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern categories of restaurants. We serve Greek Salad with Feta Cheese and Olives; we have a delicious fresh Hummus; and you’ll find tasty Lamb, Steak, Chicken or Gyro Kebabs. We also have crispy, crunchy, Baklava filled with honey and nuts. But if you’re looking for Spanakopia or Baba Ghanouj, you won’t find that at Greek Fiesta.
Zoe’s Kitchen has a contemporary look and feel with traditional Mediterranean foods and dishes, but also American accommodations like Chocolate Cake, and cookies.
Baba Ghannouj restaurants tend to be focused on food not interior design. They offer more Middle Eastern dishes, stews, braised dishes, soups. They too call themselves a blend of Lebanese and Greek foods, but we think they also travel farther east on the Middle East continuum, closer to India with the curries. You might see “Mackdous” or stuffed eggplant, or Pickled Turnips, or Curry Chicken on the menu. BUT that said, you’ll also find Hoagies (very American) and Wraps and American Kids dishes.
Shish Kabob restaurants have a Phoenician ship as part of their logo, Phoenicia having been an empire seated where modern Lebanon is today. They serve many of the classic Mediterranean dishes, including all kinds of Gyros, Kabob’s including Lamb Kabob, Hummus, Tabouli and Baba Ghanouj. But they also have Lebanese Style Beef Kafta Kabob (Kafta meaning meat ball or meat loaf). For the American palate they have Chicken Salad, Hamburger, Cheeseburger and Steak and Cheese, Pasta and to the traditional Baklava, they have added Cheese Cake.
Taziki’s Cafe makes an interesting claim – they say “Originality is our nationality.” But they also acknowledge Greek island, Mediterranean markets, as well as Mom’s kitchen as inspiration sources. Taziki’s has a contemporary european elegance in its design, and a much broader menu including items like “Whole Baked Chicken” or “Herb-Roasted Pork Loin.” You’ll also find the regular Mediterranean dishes, Hummus, Greek Salad, Domades (Grape Leaves), and Spanakopia, with the traditional Baklava dessert.
Neo Monde is a restaurant of a different kind. While only in a couple of locations, the variety of foods offered, their own bakery and retail sales of Middle Eastern products puts Neo Monde in its own class.
What’s Your Go To Mediterranean Restaurant
So which restaurants should you try? All of them! You’ll find certain restaurants fit well in your weekly driving rotation, and you’ll prefer the parking, interior design or a particular dish in a restaurant. Sometimes you’ll want a change, so you’ll try another one, but there’s no telling which one will be your go-to Mediterranean restauarant.
With our many convenient locations all around Raleigh and Cary, we hope you’ll want to make coming to your favorite Greek Fiesta a part of your routine.