Bring a flashlight if you try this place after sundown!
All we tasted were the vegetarian selections, though if the menu had offered a more Middle Eastern-accented lamb selecton or two, I might have been tempted. Alas, only beef and chicken.
A complimentary dip of thickened but kind of flat-tasting (I rarely think food needs salt, but maybe in this instance) and crackerlike flat bread started our meal.
It is funny, but being pretty much deprived of one sense--sight--does alter the ability to relate to a meal, so I feel this is a partial account. Hummos--5--was considerably runnier than most versions, thus harder to keep on the pita and off one's lap, and, though it tasted pretty good, was the first in memory where the garlic came back on me hours later. The garnish of sliced tomato belied the fact that it's the heart of tomato season. Salata--4--was redolent of excellent, fruity olive oil. It consisted of very good fresh romaine, cukes, fair pita croutons, and, according to the menu but not noticeable really, parsley, dried mint, and green onion. The acid was provided by only lemon, which I found pleasing and refreshing.
Falafel, available as a sandwich for 8, was $9 for--can't remember if it was 3 or 4 largish balls that were a touch mealier (almost mashed potatolike) in texture than I'm accustomed to but featured a nice black peppery heat and grew on me as I ate them. They were served with runny yogurt and some diced cucumber.
Both my friend and I liked Dolma--11--best: several long cabbage fingers filled with rice, parsley, onions, dill, and tomatoes. The cabbage had a sauerkrautlike flavor I found very appealing.
My glass of unidentified Cotes du Rhone for about 4.50 left something to be desired, but I drank it.
The waiter--I think the son of the owners--replied to my query about the origins of the baklava (don't have the price) that a friend of his mother made them. We got two different-looking slices, neither worth "writing home about"--a bit dry and a not as honeyed or melt-in-the-mouth as those I prefer.
For those who live in the area--the restaurant's at 3301 Buchanan, north of Lombard--or who have other reasons to hunt for elusive parking, Shoopra is worth a try simply to support a bootstrap-seeming effort, but, regretfully, I really can't say it's worth a special trip.
P.S. It's a tiny place--maybe 8 or 9 tables with an open kitchen. It does take credit cards and is open from noon till 11 PM with everything available for take-out. 415-614-9300
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