Round Up: Casual Eats

I haven’t been completely honest with you, the truth is I eat a lot more than my blog lets on (although my Instagram is pretty accurate). Since I can’t possibly include all of my favorites into one measly blog post per week, i’m introducing the Taste Bud Round-Up. I thought I’d kick off with casual eats, a few of my favorite cafes, eateries and canteens for a quick and casual  yet scrumptious bite. 

Lemonade is a bright and colorful canteen-style eatery with an innovative take on fresh, seasonal California cuisine. The deli boasts 18 varieties of salads, stews, braises, roasts and sandwiches many of which are vegan or gluten free. With something for everyone, Lemonade is probably my favorite California import this city has seen so far.

EAT: The salad bar steals the show at Lemonade, a few of my favorites are the Tomato and Avocado salad boasting crunchy pine nuts in a tangy lime vinaigrette and the Curried Cauliflower with raisins and almonds. The Roasted Beetroot Salad with pickled red onions and hazelnuts and Thai veggie salad are also among the top contenders. If you are a carnivore, order their boneless half chicken from the rotisserie which is seasoned and roasted beautifully with a side of the Brussel Sprouts. The earthy sprouts are roasted in a sweet grape glaze with onions, caramelizing the vegetable and possibly making it one of the best things on the menu.

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Ultra Brasserie 

Ultra Brasserie is a vibrant and  cozy cafe which opened their second location in Marina Plaza, conveniently opposite my house. The menu is small but diverse and health conscious boasting several superfood concoctions, organic fare and an array of gluten free options as well. With Raw coffee to boot, this is a much welcomed addition to the neighborhood.

EAT: I loved their Wagyu beef burger, I ordered it topped with caramelized onions and avocado with tomato chutney on gluten free toast. The burger was surprisingly better than many of the burger joints across town, the patty was seasoned beautifully, when combined with the sweet and sour toppings you can’t go wrong. The savory Risotto with chorizo, baby spinach, cherry tomato coated in parmesan and napolitana was also a hit. My husband also gave the Lemon Herb Chicken Burger with Chili Aioli a nod of approval. I’ll be back soon to try their Organic Soba Noodle Salad with kale and Brussels sprouts and their Sumac-dusted Chicken.


Counter Burger

The battle of the burgers is endless especially with all of the new burger joints sprouting up around town lately. I love Counter Burger for a few reason, ironically none of which have anything to do with meat. Firstly I love anything that I can customize, so the entire concept of building your own concoction from scratch is one that I appreciate, especially in a town where restaurants are so adverse to editing their dishes. Secondly, who doesn’t love a place that is carb-conscious, their burger in a salad bowl option is the perfect compromise.

EAT: My pick is their Asian Veggie salad bowl which is piled high with roasted red peppers, green onions, carrots and a vegan burger patty then adorned with pineapple and (my personal addition) a side of guacamole. With both sesame ginger and peanut sauce dressings this bowl is sweet, sour, spicy and all around wholesome with a kick of flavor. If you are feeling extra feisty do indulge in the sweet potato fries, they are probably the best rendition I’ve had in the Emirate.


Operation Falafel

If you follow my blog, you’ve already read about Operation Falafel and know by now that I might be their #1 fan. So I’ll keep this quick, Operation (as I call it) has become our go-to place for a quick quality bite on the beach and for delivery. I’ve written about their divine stuffed falafel croquettes but I’ve only recently tried their chicken shawarma and it qualifies among the best I’ve ever had, ever. And being a Jordanian, I like to think I’ve tried great shawarma. Order the chicken shawarma platter and opt for the saj bread, which and a little lighter than regular Arabic bread, with plenty of the garlic dip and pickles on the side. Don’t skimp on the garlic, its a deal breaker!


Moms Food

Sometimes a little slice of home is all you need and nothing comes closer than my moms home cooked meals, so its only natural that Mom’s Food would be among my favorites. Now lets be clear, it doesn’t compare to my moms cuisine but being hundreds of miles away, it gets the job done. The Park Island-situated restaurant is simple and understated boasting a lengthy menu including everything you would you expect of a Lebanese eatery.

EAT: Mom’s Food is a favorite for delivery, I usually order their Healthy Rocca Chicken Salad and Lentil Soup. The salad is simple enough topped with a generous portion of shish taouk, sumac and onions. Their lentil soup is thick and hearty served with lemon for an extra kick and crispy bread.  Their daily dishes offer meals that are reserved for your mother only like Fasoulia, Bamia, Kofta bi Tahini or Malfouf and usually please the palate. And if you are in search of protein the Mixed Grills serves up a variety of succulent meats, I opt for the kofta, shish tawouk and kebab.