If you didn’t know it was there, Al Basha Mediterranean Restaurant and Grocery would be very easy to pass by, and that would be a shame, because it not only serves great food, it also has a terrific little grocery.
I first started visiting Al Basha on the recommendations of some friends of mine who visit Turkey and the Middle East every year for a religious sabbatical. So I trusted they knew what they were talking about when they said the food was “authentic” and I wasn’t disappointed.
Walking into the restaurant side of the place you are struck by the music first, both modern and traditional Arabic music is piped in and sets the mood. Then you notice all the hookahs for sale lining the top of the partition wall separating the restaurant from the grocery. Off to the left you’ll enter a fairly recent addition to the restaurant, which has bench seating and is decorated in what could be called a Middle Eastern theme. Overall the restaurant is a comfortable setting and ideal for spending a pleasant dinner with friends and family.
The speed of service at Al Basha can be spotty sometimes. It really depends on how busy they are. They’ve improved recently by adding additional wait staff during peak hours, but you can wait up to twenty minutes at times to be served your meal, especially if it is something a little more complicated than a gyros sandwich. To me, that isn’t such a big deal but for those of you wanting to get in and out or are in a hurry to be somewhere else, Al Basha may not be a good choice on that occasion.
That being said, the staff members are pleasant and eager to serve. They are also happy to give you a good recommendation if you are unfamiliar with Mediterranean cuisine or just cannot make up your mind that evening.
In the years I have been visiting Al Basha I have never once seen the place dirty. The tables are clean and in good repair, the bathrooms spotless.
Here is where Al Basha stands out. The portions are generous, the food fresh, and the flavors are very good. The one downside, if there is one, is the range of the menu. With all the variety in Mediterranean cuisine, Al Basha’s menu is a bit limited. Don’t let this deter you from going though as the dishes they make are delicious and if you happen to go there on Friday thru Sunday the selection menu gets much broader at the buffet.
Being a regular here, I have eaten or tried just about everything on the menu and I can say I’ve enjoyed everything I have ever eaten here, but instead of giving you a full run down on the entire menu I’ll talk a bit about what I consider their standout items.
Starting with the appetizers, I really like the hummus. I think it is great, but it isn’t Jeff great. If you don’t know what I am talking about please refer to my review of the Istanbul Café. The stuffed grape leaves or Dolmas are a real favorite and I haven’t brought a person here that didn’t absolutely love them. Served warm they are stuffed with a rice, meat, and lemony herb mixture that will get your salivary glands running overtime. A close contender to the Dolmas for best appetizer on the menu is the Falaffel. The Falaffel are fall out of your chair good. Lemony coriander chickpea patties with a crispy crust and a smooth creamy interior, you won’t go wrong ordering these. A word of caution though, Falaffel is served with Tahini sauce on the side and this sesame based sauce can be a touch on the bitter side. So if you don’t like bitter, go ahead and eat the Falaffel without it, you won’t be disappointed. I tell you what, if you do order the Falaffel and don’t like it, I’ll eat it for you!
On to the Entrées! Al Basha usually has a lunch and/or dinner special of a Gyros or Chicken Schwarma served with fries and a drink for less than $10. For what you get it is a real good deal. Of course you cannot go wrong ordering the Gyros Sandwich or dinner for that matter and I really cannot think of any entrée that isn’t well made and nicely presented. So have at it! I do have a warning regarding the Gyros though. They come in three different flavors; regular, hot and spicy. It would be normal to assume spicy would have less heat than the hot. But if you did that you would be wrong, and I mean dead wrong! The regular Gyros have a great taste and not a hint of heat. The hot Gyros have got some heat and it accents the wonderful flavors of the meat and Tzatziki. The Spicy however, is hot and I mean damn hot! I’ve ordered it on more than one occasion and being a pepper belly, I have enjoyed eating it immensely. The pleasure of eating it; however, does not offset the pain I feel while digesting it. Within an hour or two I feel like I have nugget of nuclear waste traveling through my gut. Why I continue to order it, I do not know except that maybe I convince myself the pain wasn’t nearly as bad as I remember. So, if you do order a Spicy Gyros, remember, you have been warned!
A quick word about the salads; they are pretty good. Jeff, being on a low carbohydrate diet often orders the Greek salad with Gyros meat or Chicken Schwarma. If you are familiar with Istanbul Café’s menu, the Fattoush salad here is the equivalent of the Istanbul Café’s Shepherd Salad, and just as good I might add.
The Juicy Bits
Like El Camino Real, Al Basha is one of my regular “go to” restaurants. It is nearby, the food is tasty, fresh, and priced fairly. Besides, where else can I go to get a healthy meal and get a little shopping done as well. The grocery has plenty to offer, I often buy Ceylon tea, honey, and dates here. For avid cooks Al Basha has a nice collection of well priced bulk spices.
In summary: I’ll tell you what my friends told me so many years ago, “If you want good Middle Eastern food, Al Basha is a pretty good place. It’s kind of hard to find though. It’s back behind the water store on Allisonville Road south of 116th street. If you go past the airfield you’ve gone too far. I think you’ll really like it. And their prices are pretty good too!”
Al Basha Mediterranean Restaurant and Grocery
11321 Village Square Lane
Fishers, IN 46038
Tel: (317) 537-7871
Hours: Monday – Thursday (11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.), Friday – Saturday (11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.), Sunday (11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.)