New restaurant wows with flavor

Za’tar Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine is located on the upper level of the Student Union in the Comet Cafe, opening in time for the start of the fall semester. Photo by Srichandrakiran Gottipati | Mercury Staff.

Za’tar Eastern Mediterranean Cuisine serves naturally delicious ingredients and perfectly balanced seasoning with the authenticity of Mediterranean food conveniently located in the Comet Cafe. The Student Union opened Za’tar on Aug. 21 in place of the crEATe salad bar.

If you choose to order a wrap, you must pick a base and a meat with six toppings and a sauce. The pita bread and lamb, topped with red and green peppers, feta cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, mushrooms and cilantro mint sauce was a little over seven dollars. It is more expensive in comparison to Chick-fil-A or Panda Express, but given that they offer halal meat, it is a great choice for individuals who have dietary restrictions.

The meat is sliced off a horizontal post that’s spun slowly alongside the stove. The lamb tastes like it’s been freshly charred on wood chips and is just thick enough without being too stubborn to eat. The pita bread is incredibly soft. The texture of the flour on the exterior of the pita bread adds to the tongue-tingling texture.

The peppers are crisp and the tomatoes aren’t overly soft. The flavors of the other ingredients aren’t overwhelming, but the wrap tastes like eating a room-temperature salad on pita bread. However, the toppings allow the cilantro mint sauce to shine and further emphasize the charred flavor of the lamb.

Za’tar is a great choice if you’re feeling adventurous but still want to have familiar ingredients. The range of unique sauces compliment the simple toppings well. Specifically, the zesty cilantro sauce was spicy without being too overwhelming, and I immediately picked out the signature flavor of eastern Mediterranean food, while playing it safe with chicken and fresh toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes and mushrooms.

Any meal isn’t complete without some sort of sweet goodness. The baklava was incredibly satisfying and intricate in its various textures. The flakiness of the dough and the gooey consistency of the sweet filling, with the nut topping and strong cinnamon flavor throughout were not what I expected, as someone who had never tried baklava before. I would drop by Za’tar to pick up a piece of baklava on a day my sweet tooth is hyperactive. It was that life-changing and only for 1.99.

I give Za’tar 4 out of 5 stars. Although the menu options are limited, Za’tar is a perfect option for those with dietary restrictions, as well as reserved and adventurous foodies alike. Even though it is more on the expensive side in comparison to some of the other food locations across campus, it works if you are feeling something different and would rather not leave campus or spend more than $10.

The restuarant accepts meal swipes and students have a choice between pita with falafel or pita with the Meat of the Day with a fountain drink or a “build your own” salad with one protein and up to six toppings or sauces.

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