Mohammed Alsalem gave his small Middle Eastern diner a majestic name: Shawarma King. His kitchen kingdom in the Delmar Loop is on Melville, in the spot where Seoul Taco got started and Zippy Burger once resided. In that area, competition abounds. But with years of experience in commercial kitchens, Alsalem knows the ropes. He says it’s the way he marinates the meat overnight in vinegar and spices and the way he slices the spit-roasted meat, that makes his shawarma unique.
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Robin and I recently ordered lunch from the walk-up counter and, it being a warm day, we ate at one of the sidewalk tables. She got the falafel sandwich (made from ground chickpeas) and an order of baba ganoush (a creamy eggplant dip, much like hummus). I had the chicken/beef shawarma plate with the meat shaved from the chunky upright rotisserie spits.
The place is spartan in decor and seating, (4 or 5 tables), but Ansalem has spared no effort in producing a full menu of flavorful dishes. I haven’t tried the kibbeh (the bulgur wheat croquettes filled with ground beef and spices), the lentil soup, rice-stuffed grape leaves, or Arabic tea yet. So there are a number of good reasons to return. What’s more, he stays open 7 days a week! Now that’s a go-getter.
Shawarma King, 571 Melville Ave. Open: 7 days a week, 11a-10p.