In Denton TX, we have an array of eclectic food options. From Pakistani/French fusion to some of the most amazing street tacos north of McAllen, Denton is a hub for foodie folks. However, the one food niche in town that rarely gets any attention is Mediterranean. To deal with this culinary oversight, my good friend Katie and I embarked on a food adventure. The plan was to hit three restaurants chosen via facebook poll on the Denton Dallas and Beyond group page. The results clearly pointed toward the following: Layalina, Jasmines and Green Zatar. In order to keep things fair and balanced, our meals would include the vegetarian sampler platter from all three locations. With our itinerary set and our stomachs empty we braved the cold, wind and rain to bring the food knowledge to the people.
Our first stop was Layalina, located at 706 Ft. Worth Drive. This building has been home to many cafes and diners over the years. At one point, I think it was even a Kettle. But I digress. As you enter Layalina, you are greeted by an open floor plan with a good view of the kitchen from the dining area. They have the typical tapestries and chotskies that you would expect for a mediterranean place. We were seated immediately and our food came out quickly.
The Layalina vegetarian sampler included falafel, hummus, baba ghanouj, tabouli, dolma and pita bread. It was an ample amount of food for under 13 dollars. All of the items tasted fresh, the hummus was really rich and had a super creamy texture to it. The dolma had a super tender grape leaf exterior and nice rich interior. The falafel was perfectly seasoned and had a moist interior. The eggplant dish was a bit too tangy for my taste, but not so much so as to stop me from slathering a second scoop on the fresh pita bread. Both Katie and I felt that Laylalina is a nice middle of the road option for Mediterranean food.
Our second stop was Jasmines. This is restaurant and hookah lounge is located on Sunset and has a bit more of an industrial feel to its interior. We seated ourselves, ordered and received our food quickly. The price point was relatively equal to the previous stop, but there was significantly more food on this sampler plate. The items on the plate were similar to the first stop, but also included a yogurt salad. The salad was very fresh and pleasant. It was definitely a refreshing start to the meal. The falafel was super crunchy on the outside and packed with flavor on the interior. The Dolma was super moist and soft and the leaf wrapping had nice acidity but was somewhat tough. Both Katie and I noticed that the bread was a little thinner and not as fresh or as savory as the previous stop. The hummus was really rich but was a bit gritty. The baba ghanouj was chunky and I could really taste the freshness of the eggplant. Again, this place is a solid middle of the road option for Mediterranean style food. It also gets a few extra points for portion size relative to cost. The falafel was by far my favorite of the items I tried.
On the final leg of this epic tour, we found our way to Green Zatar. This quaint little cafe oozes with charm, character and a relaxing atmosphere. Our server was quick to seat us and our food came out fast and fresh. All of the usual items were included on their Veggie Combo, with the addition of a Greek Style salad and a hand riced side. The pita bread was fluffy, warm and soft. To my surprise, the star of the sampler was the salad. An incredible amount of flavor was packed into each bite. It was a simple but fresh dressing comprised of a quality olive oil, mint, dill and an array of other spices. The hummus was very balanced in flavor. It had a smooth and savory texture to it.
The paprika sported subtle smokey notes that enhanced the overall flavor to the dish. The tabouli had a fine chop to the veg, which seamed to tame the parsley flavor throughout. The only miss on this plate was the falafel. It lacked the moisture that gives that dish its signature contrast of textures. The hummus and the dolma were both standouts for me. You can easily recognize the care and love that has gone into the preparation of those dishes. Overall, Green Zatar was the clear winner of this challenge. I’m already looking forward my next trip there.
To learn more about this adventure, listen to our feature presentation.