Agreed that words like best and ugliest shouldn't be thrown about too lightly, but have you been to Elie's Cafe?
It's on the second level of the Galeria Internacional mall -- every other business on the second level appears to have gone as bankrupt as Greece. The only real visuals are tables and about 40 chairs arranged on a tile floor, a counter with kitchen behind it, a display cooler filled with sodas and soft drinks; a television screen turned to CNN, and some tattered photos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (I looked closely, but none were autographed). There are no windows or doors leading outside, so no natural light whatsoever.
It is a grim looking restaurant indeed. But boy can Elie make a great falafel ($5.95) and shawarma ($9.95) sandwich -- and his hummus hums as well ($3.95 for plate and pita). Each is available on consistently fresh, heated pita bread (they are also available on baguette, but who eats falafel on baguette?) The falafel are crisp outside, soft within; the shawarma meat is tender chicken assertively bathed in Middle Eastern spices (and paired with cabbage), and the hummus smoothly touts a strong tahini flavor with a light lemon accent. A lunch special brings a platter of falafel, hummus, cabbage slaw, Israeli salad, and pita bread for $7.95. That's some deal.
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SHOW ME HOW
Elie, who hails from Morocco, opened this Glatt Kosher eatery in 2006; a year later he moved the business up a flight to its present location. Other dishes on the compact menu include merguez sausages, roast chicken, kefta kebabs, and a couple of pasta offerings. Prices top out at $12. The restaurant is open from noon to 5 pm, and if you work downtown they'll deliver. Elie's is out of sight and therefore often out of mind, so we thought we'd remind you.