A reader whom I’ve learned to rely on for excellent tips (hint, hint, everyone) turned me on to Samad Mediterranean Grill & Market – this sweet Lebanese restaurant set in the corner of an aging strip shopping center in northern Sandy Springs.
It is a modest place that doesn’t quite fill its large space with tables and shelves of Middle Eastern dry goods. What it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for with soulful cooking.
You order from the dry-erase boards hanging over the counter, pay, serve yourself a fountain drink and wait for your food. Check the salad case and order the freshest looking ones for your side dishes. We best liked the ful with chickpeas, each bean and pea cooked to that perfect point of creamy surrender and marinated in an addictive garlic-forward dressing.
Samad makes the chicken shawarma I’ve long looked for in Atlanta and haven’t found until now. The meat comes crisp and juicy off the spit, and the fresh garnish goes in ice cold for the temperature contract that makes all the difference. Make sure to ask for the house yogurt, garlic and hot sauces. The garlic will stay on your breath for hours, and you won’t care a lick. It’s worth it.
Well-spiced kofte (spelled kafta here) merit a look see, as do the crisp falafel that open to tender, herb-green centers. I found lamb kebobs served over yellow rice pilaf perfectly pleasant, but not inhalable like the shawarma.
If you’re in the area and like Mediterranean food, I’d recommend this place. You’ll put it into rotation.
- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog