After Bangladeshi food, we have a soft spot for Mediterranean cuisine as evident from the many Mediterranean recipes I share. Mediterranean foods are fresh, simple, fruit and vegetable heavy, unprocessed, flavorful and pleases our palate. When it comes to eating out, we often set out for delicious Mediterranean cuisine. Recently we discovered a gem, Jasmine Café in what’s left of the old downtown in Richardson. I had been curious about the cafe as I have passed by many, many times in the past 8+ years. It looked so run down that never really went in until recently. AND…my, oh my, are we glad that we did? Jasmine café is a perfect example of how looks can be deceiving. Inside the café, it is a family friendly atmosphere, outstanding food, and fabulous hospitality serving fresh, delicious, Halal Palestinian/Middle Eastern cuisine.
The exterior and interior décor is nondescript and can definitely use some update. The restaurant changed ownership about 3 years ago and the new owners, Nameer and his brother, are making constant upgrades to the décor. They ran a restaurant in Palestine and offering the same cuisine you would find when visiting the original restaurant. 100% authentic. I put it on our list of restaurant to try instantly after as I learnt they serve halal food, and no alcohol, not even BYOB.
The café has an adjacent hookah lounge, Jasmine Hookah Bar, so they have several options for seating. The main café is a smoke free zone so no hookah is allowed. The adjacent lounge is nightclub like hookah bar and you can order food there too. Both the café and the hookah bar have spacious patios with a capacity to enjoy a pleasant evening indulging yourself in a flavored hookah, or simply fabulous food.
The patios are enclosed in the winter months with heating and TVs, with a few tables scattered outside. During the summer, the patios are vibrant with lush greenery and colorful flowers as per Nameer. Since we don’t smoke, we can’t vouch much about the hookah, but the quality and taste of food is fresh, very flavorful and varied. We sat in one of the patios around the heaters on the smoke free area and it was cozy and family friendly.
We went to the café around 6pm so there were plenty of parking on the back of the restaurant. I can imagine how parking can get a little creative if you go late at night. Be prepared to park on the street if you are heading out later at night as the place gets busier.
During our dinner, we order the combination platter to get a taste of the menu and we were more than pleased. Lots of salads and they don’t drench them in dressing/cheese so they truly are healthy.
We instantly fell in love with the Turkish salad. It is a fresh, spicy, salsa like salad made of tomato sauce, red onion, fresh parsley, jalapeno and about 20 different kind of spices.
We all, including my daughter, loved the cauliflower salad too made with cauliflower, green pepper, tomato, mayo and off course special spices.
Taboula was very authentic. Less bulgar and more green, just the way it is supposed to be. It is fresh and aromatic with plenty of parsley. Not too lemony but a perfect balance is what make them different from all the other places I have been to.
Fatoush with fried pieces of pita bread combined with mixed greens was authentic, original and fabulous. The cucumber salad was nothing special, just your cucumber yogurt salad but still fresh.
The hummus, baba ghanoush, garlic sauce, tahini sauce, falafel is made fresh and healthy. The key to offering Mediterranean food is to keep it fresh, Nameer assures me. “Many restaurants will make their hummus every two to three days and keep it in the refrigerator. We make it all day, every two hours to keep the flavors fresh,” said Nameer. This is true of all their menu items. He also confirms that all of their food is made with olive oil except the French fries. Then again, why anyone ever orders French fries at a Mediterranean restaurant is beyond my understanding.
The chicken, lamb and beef kababs that came with the platter were juicy, and flavorful.
To get a robust snapshot of the offerings, I went back during a weekday for the lunch buffet. I am very impressed with the salad bar. The freshest salad bar I have ever seen. There are plenty of salads, dips, vegetables, kababs, fish and meat dishes to try from with atleast 2 dessert choices. I suggest you start with the lunch buffet (8.99) during the day to get a sample of their fabulous food.
For dinner, the combination plate (serves 2-3 hungry people) with a variety of dishes that more than fill the table for a mere $39.99. For a larger group they have a family feast that feeds up to six people for $74.99. To me, it’s a bargain, if you do the math.
To complete the meal, treat yourself to the Nabilsi Knafa, made of soft, sweet cheese layer with shredded phyllo dough, and drizzled with a rose water syrup and sprinkled with pistachios. According to Nameer, the cheese is sourced from Palestine. The dessert is best shared with a cup of the very popular Arabic tea.
Jasmine Café is a great spot for a casual hangout with some great culinary experience. The service is friendly yet professional. All the staffs that we came across answered our enquiries about the menu in a knowledgeable way. Great couches in the patios where we sat to relax. Loved the chatter and laughter in several languages including English that continued while we were there. It was a very relaxed, and no-stress evening.
If you’ve never tried Palestinian food, go ahead and give their Halal food a try. The food is wonderful. I highly recommend their pots of tea, as well. For a little fun Jasmine Café is offering all With A Spin reader’s a free pot of tea. Follow me and leave me a comment below if you are heading there to get your coupon by email.
Full Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored review. With A Spin was not compensated by Jasmine Café and Hookah Bar and all opinions are my own. The price and menu are based on our visit in January 2014.
Thanks to Nameer, the owner, the staff, and the customers of Jasmine Mediterranean Café for accommodating me while I walked around with a camera. Thanks for the free dinner(though we insisted to pay) and the excellent service and food. Thanks for delivering authentic flavors and food consistently.
Also, all photos are © copyright of With A Spin and strictly prohibited for any commercial use.