The 30-something gentleman leaning against the counter said it best: "Such a cute little place. I'm so glad I found it," he told the waiter. Sporting a newsboy cap, a T-shirt, and jeans, he hummed along to UB40's "Red Red Wine" while waiting to grab his take-out from Noa Café.
It was lunchtime, and the hole-in-the-wall eatery in Wynwood was brimming with business folks. A table of four suits didn't seem eager to return to work as they waved goodbye to chef-owner Adi Kafri in the open-air kitchen. It's easy to see why: Kafri's uncontrived cuisine is filling, and they had ordered the decadent flourless chocolate cake.
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Kafri refers to the pintsize café as her baby, because Noa is first and foremost a food catering company for events. It's also the reason Noa is open only for lunch during the week. Could this explain why I hadn't heard about this gem until last week?
Perhaps what's most amazing about this 2-year-old café is how reasonably priced it is given the amount of care put into each dish. The most expensive item is a $14.95 grilled 12-ounce New York strip steak. The generous salads are $10.95, and the focaccia sandwiches cost $8.95.
Though my friendly waiter suggested the vodka cheese ravioli with salmon ($14) from the list of daily specials, I opted for the Middle Eastern mezze plate ($10.95). I assumed the mezze would be good considering Kafri is from Israel, and, more important, the falafel was calling out to me.
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As I had hoped, the fried chickpea balls were crisp rather than greasy and had a pronounced parsley taste I couldn't get enough of. The rest of the colorful plate featured fresh organic greens, whole-wheat pita bread, lightly grilled veggies, and homemade hummus and tahini. The clean flavors played off one another brilliantly, and I savored each vibrant bite.
Taking a cue from the office crowd before me, I succumbed to the flourless chocolate cake. Each rich, velvety morsel sent me into a deeper food coma, leaving me with only one thought: Noa, I'm so happy I finally found you.
Follow Valeria Nekhim on Twitter @ValeriaNekhim