When the staff at ELV wants to eat healthy, they go to Hedary’s. There’s something about a big plate of deep green tabuli, full of bulgur wheat, fresh parsley, tomatoes and onions, and lightly bathed in a lemon-olive oil dressing that seems to me to have health-giving properties. You can practically feel your blood being purified with each forkful.
By now it’s old news that the Mediterranean diet is the best on earth. By that we mean a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, garlic and onions and unleavened bread. The countries surrounding the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea may have had a jolly good time raping and pillaging each other for centuries, but you can say this for ‘em: they knew how to eat. And so much of that invasion stuff went on that whatever tribal cuisines they started with soon got cross-pollinated into a melting pot of sharply flavored goodness.
Although it always starts an argument with whatever hard-headed Middle Eastern patriot we’re talking to, ELV maintains that the cuisines of Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and even Persia (Iraq and Iran), are really one and the same. Sure there are seasoning differences—Greek food is positively bland next to Lebanese—but scratch the surface and you’ll see very similar cooking techniques, ingredients and presentations; whether it’s a falafel plate, a kebab, a stuffed grape leaf, or that great plate of tabuli.
Which brings us back to Hedary’s. They call it a Mediterranean restaurant, but that’s just a marketing ploy to cast as wide a net as possible for customers. What it is is a Lebanese restaurant, and a very good one at that. Lebanese food is more aggressively seasoned than other cuisines in the region, which you’ll discover after taking one bite of their Lebanese pizza, consisting of ground beef with some serious spice atop a large smashed piece of pita bread. Like the Greeks, the Lebanese throw all kinds of aromatics in their meat—making for complexity worthy of a fine wine.
Another thing these Christian Arabs excel at is sausage making. The three lunch specials Sujuk (hot beef links swimming in lemon juice), Kafta (spicy-but-not-so-hot-ground beef), and Moaniq (savory pork) are sausages on a different level than you will find at any other middle eastern or Mediterranean joint in this town. Likewise the baked chicken, and grilled kibbi (it looks like a dome-shaped hamburger) are so expertly seasoned that I can’t figure out how Hedary’s hasn’t put all of its rivals out of business. The pita bread is always feather-light puffy and warm, the baba ganoush fresh, thick, and smoky, and the stuffed grape leaves good enough to pass muster at the upcoming Greek Food Festival.
All this goodness comes very reasonably, making me wonder why anyone who lives or works around West Sahara would ever go to Applebee’s or the Claim Jumper when so much taste is right around the corner. And best of all, it’s good for you….. and amazingly, we never feel stuffed after eating here at Hedary’s. Those pillagers sure knew how to stay light on their feet…..
Click here to hear my review of Hedary’s on KNPR – Nevada Public Radio
Hedary’s Mediterranean Restaurant
7365 W. Sahara Unit K
Las Vegas NV 89117