It is game to us and here is the process we normally go through:
"What is that?" "I don't know, smell it." "I don't recognize that smell." "Taste it." We watch each other for signs of poisoning. None seen. "You taste it." Chew slowly. "Hey! This is good!" "I know, right!?" "Where has this been our whole lives??"
Enter Baghdad Restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. (Click the link for a map of the place.)
We actually saw it first when we were eating at another restaurant across the street called Moroccan Bites, which is also really good! We eventually made our way back in that direction on another trip to San Antonio and we are glad we did!
This is just one portion of the menu give you an idea of what they have to offer. I decided to try the chicken shawarma plate.
After ordering we had time to look around. The atmosphere isn't much. If you want good food and a more decorated atmosphere try Moroccan Bites across the street. Otherwise, stay where you are! The food is worth a lack of decoration!
On every table there were three jars. One was sugar and then there were these two.
It wasn't clear what they were. So I played our game that I outlined above. I smelled each one. The one on the right smelled like black pepper. The one on the left, I didn't recognize. I tasted both of them, and yep pepper but I still didn't know the other one.
The waiter came out and brought us this Persian flatbread that was the size of a medium pizza and a dipping sauce! I asked him what was in the left hand jar and he said sumac. There was one mystery down.
Then of course, we didn't know what was in the dipping sauce besides olive oil. Again, I asked. Turns out it is a mix of spices called za'atar, which is very good. I now have jars of both sumac and za'atar in my kitchen!
So we had all this newness and goodness and the main dish hadn't even arrived! When it did, wow, just wow! I had the chicken shawarma as seen below and Frankie had ordered the beef shawarma. Both were wonderful! The seasoning was perfect, the sauce was tangy, the rice was delicious, and the salad, well it's a salad, what can I say.
After our meal, the waiter came back out and offered us some Persian tea. It was complimentary, so there was no hesitation on our part! The waiter warned us that it was very strong and we would probably want to add sugar.
Both of us are trying to cut out sugar from our diet so we tried it first. He wasn't kidding about the strength! We both added a little sugar to tame the wild beast and then sat back and enjoyed. It was a satisfying meal and experience.
I leave you with one parting shot of a panting hanging in the restaurant. The owner saw me looking at it and told me that this is what Baghdad looks like. I would have never guessed! It reminds me of some place else that I just can't place.
When we pulled out of the parking lot to leave we saw another place called Sinbad Cafe (apparently it use to be called Syrian Kitchen). We went there on a different day and was impressed by the food there as well. We have found our food happy place in San Antonio!!
I hope if you get the chance you will check out Baghdad Restaurant! Maybe you will see us there!