As a young member of the Millennial generation and a recent college grad, I’m constantly on the hunt for a good bargain. When I was challenged to find a place where I could get some decent fare that didn’t break the bank, I was all ears… or rather, stomach. Whenever I find myself looking for some cheap food, I usually think happy hour — snacking and sipping go hand in hand. But for the sake of trying something different, I decided to venture out of the confines of my downtown routine and take a step off the beaten path.
State Street is not exactly a road less traveled in terms of commute. However, it’s a change from the go-to eateries of 8th and Idaho. My destination: Mazzah Mediterranean Grill. My mission: order lunch and dessert for $15 or under, including tip.
Mazzah has a variety of Mediterranean dishes to try, including several Greek staples. I love Greek cuisine; it always has so much flavor! I’ll never forget visiting a Greek friend of mine in Portland, Oregon one Easter. In Greek culture, Easter is a big deal. We spent an entire morning stuffing about 100 grape leaves with a veggie and rice filling that had been cooked in lemon juice; a traditional dish called dolmas.
Photos by Brian Millar.
When I got to Mazzah, the atmosphere was very casual and comfortable. It was a sort of cafeteria-style dining, so no need to stuff your tired feet into a pair of pointy stilettos – your sneakers will do just fine. I walked up to the counter to order. There was a display case with pastries, like baklava and a chocolate almond nut roll, right by the register. I already knew I was getting the baklava, which is made with honey, nuts, butter, and phyllo dough. Perusing the menu, I looked for a falafel dish that a friend of mine recommended.
The price of their falafel sandwich is $4.99, which meant I had room in my budget for an appetizer. Dolmas were displayed in the case next to me, and I added three to my order for $3.99. I, of course, had to add on the baklava for dessert for $2.99. I asked for a water cup to save money on the drink. My total came to $12.69, and with a $3 tip, that brought my total to $15.69. The goal was to keep my full order under $15, but I think tipping well is a good reason to break the rules a bit.
Photos by Brian Millar.
Happy Belly, Happy Bank
I took my number and sat at a table to wait for my food. When the spread arrived, I wasted no time and dug in immediately. I went for the dolmas first, which tasted delightful. I’ve had dolmas at many restaurants and have never been disappointed, and these were no exception.
The falafel sandwich was also fabulous! The falafel had a great crunchy outer layer and then a soft, moist texture. There’s nothing worse than a dry falafel. On the sandwich was lettuce, pickled turnips, and a tahini dressing – a great vegan substitute for any creamy dressing or sauce. I finished off with the baklava, and it was just as divine as the dolmas and falafel – sweet, but not overwhelming… a wonderful end to a delectable meal.
From one foodie to another, if you’re looking for something different in the City of Trees, head to Mazzah for authentic Mediterranean cuisine that will delight your tastebuds and your wallet.