I've been reading Chowhound for years and this is my first post.
I live in Rockford, IL and am often dismayed that there is not much information on locally owned restaurants in our area. Many visitors feel that we are a vast wasteland of chain eateries when in reality we have many wonderful restaurants here.
For example, this past weekend a friend and I found a new place and tried it out. Wonderful!
5621 Wansford Way
The restaurant itself was small and lacked great atmosphere, however it was clean and the staff was very friendly, (and helpful).
Ordering and paying is done at the counter, the food is then brought out to you – the food arrived to our table quickly and was beautifully presented, (the hummos we ordered was decorated with fresh, chopped tomatoes, olive oil, parsley sprigs, and a few dashes of paprika).
We dined on a Saturday night – early on, about 6:00 and the weather was frigid; which may account for the lack of customers. There were, however, some customers calling in to place orders for carry-out.
We ordered the hummos, tabouleh, vegetarian falafil plate, and the kifta kabob dinner (the kabob came with Arabic salad and rice).I have to say that the hummos and falafil were the best I’ve ever had! The hummos was so fresh and flavorful that I had a difficult time sharing! The falafil was perfectly prepared; crispy on the outside and full of flavor on the inside – the combination of herbs and spices was amazing! I have had versions of these dishes prepared homemade by a friend who is from Jordan and the food I had at
Sahara Palace beat them hands down! The food at Sahara Palace surpasses that of the renowned Pita Inn in Skokie , IL and several of the authentic Arabic restaurants in Chicago . The tabouleh was light, crisp, and refreshing – you could tell that it was freshly made.
The kifta kabob was very tasty, a bit on the dry side, but in my experience that is the norm. The Arabic salad that came with the meal was just as delicious as the other dishes. And the pita bread, OH! to die for – so soft, warm, it was gobbled up in no time at all! The only disappointment with the whole meal was the rice that was served with the kabob dinner, it was merely plain, steamed rice. It was good for steamed rice, but I suppose I was looking for something more “authentic”.
Overall, our experience at Sahara Palace was a fantastic one. The food was simply amazing, the prices were reasonable, ($25 for all that we ordered – and the serving sizes were generous) and the staff was friendly. You cannot ask for better than that. I only hope
that people will read about the restaurant, such as I did, and decide to go! This, folks, is a GEM of a place – a long-needed addition to the hum-drum, chain-style restaurants that we have so many of in the Rockford area! Don’t let this one slip away!
By the way, did I mention that they offer a children’s menu (including chicken fingers) and carry-out services?!
If you are in the area and are a tabouleh fan, give it a try.