There's a new little Lebanese cafe in the strip mall on 164th and McGillvary -- the one that's anchored by Albertson's. It's called the Galilee Cafe.
This is a somewhat suspicious name since there's the Jerusalem Cafe that's a long-time Vancouver Lebanese restaurant now with three locations. I've always thought the Jerusalem was decent, some items, such as their grilled meats, better than others. The unique thing about the place is that they always have a set of free appetizers along with pita, little snacky fillings for breads such as slightly pickled red cabbage, potato salad, and a mixture that tastes like salsa.
Galilee is a in a strip mall and the decor is very simple, although they do have a mural on the walls that make it look as if you're sitting on an outdoor patio overlooking the sea.
The people are very nice. The owner is Lebanese, I'm pretty sure, but his waitress and perhaps significant other is clearly Latina and when her family came in even the owner spoke a little Spanish to them. The place has been open only very shortly and she actually asked us how we pronounced "mezza" (which they show as "mazza" on the menu). However, the service was plenty attentive the whole time. And the food was relatively good, too.
Like Jerusalem, they bring you out little plates whose closest equivalent would be the panchan at Korean place. In this case, we got red cabbage, green cabbage, potato salad, salsa (essentially), and corn. I guess these are all salads, but I've always eaten them in the pita bread so I don't really think of them as salads. The salsa is very similar to Pace in form, but has a slight smokey flavor, perhaps from smoked paprika. Each one was very fresh tasting and our only problems with any of them were personal issues, eg, that my wife and I didn't like the sweet pickle in the potato salad.
The bread was weak. Thin, store bought level pita that wasn't warmed properly so it was a bit tough.
For the stuff we actually ordered (this was all free up to this point) my wife got the personal cold mazza (veggie, $8.99) which included, according to the menu, homous (I'm using their spellings), baba ghanouj, tahini, falafel, salad, and labneh tabouli. The hummus was nice, perhaps a little strong on the tahini and needing a little more lemon. The baba (which I generally don't like) was too garlicky according to my wife, but I thought it was probably tahini she was tasting. The falafel were pretty tasty. Very light with a nice fried shell. There wasn't any noticeable parsley. They were very beany, I'd say primarily garbonzo bean. My wife liked falafel for once. I think for the salad there was more of the free apps on the plate, the cabbage, etc. Their tabouli is mostly parsley, but it has a nice flavor. Very simple and fresh. It was really a big plate of food. I think there were four falafel, eg.
I had the grilled shawarma ($9.99), which in this case isn't a true shawarma but a patty of ground beef and ground lamb mixed with onions and topped with tahini and roasted pine nuts. It mostly tasted of meat, with just an accent of spices. Enjoyable. I really liked the thin sauce of tahini and nuts on top. It was served with tabouli and the salads and rice, but I had them sub the rice for more tabouli since I don't like rice that much and generally avoid carbs if possible.
Not great Lebanese but pretty good. Certainly acceptable and fairly priced. Plus, I haven't seen any other place besides Jerusalem that gives all those tasty salads. Which is why I asked if they were related. According to the owner, the Jerusalem Cafe people "used to be his cousins". Huh? Apparently they had a falling out after the cousins wanted to go half-and-half on the new venture and he wanted to do it himself. Afterall, they already had three locations.
Anyone know of other places in Portland that serve these salads like this?