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McALLEN — Apparently, my reviews have become too predictable.
I’ve done too many reviews of restaurants that specialize in Tex-Mex, according to my editors, and they wanted me to try something that was “out of my comfort zone.”
Well the joke’s on them. I decided to try Fares Arabic Cuisine, and it was awesome, and I spent a whole lot of money and I plan to expense every penny.
Walking into the restaurant, which is located at 5221 N. 10th St. Suite 270, I was immediately greeted with the sounds of Arabic pop music and some of the most delectable aromas I’ve experienced since I began getting paid to Anthony Bourdain my way (albeit terribly and less literate) throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
I studied the menu vigorously, and was immediately drawn to the Berek Bi Lahme, a fried, empanada-looking pastry filled with seasoned ground beef. I ordered that as an appetizer.
The waiter asked me what else I wanted, and in a panic I decided to try the Palmyra Chicken, which are chicken thighs seasoned in a blend of spices and grilled. The meal comes with a side of rice, grilled vegetables, and an additional side of my choice.
Still in full-on panicmode and not wanting to seem unpleasant to the waiter, I settled on a side order of Tabbouleh, a salad dish consisting of chopped parsley, bulgar (cracked wheat), dried mint, chopped tomatoes and onions, and coated in a layer of olive oil and lemon juice.
The Tabbouleh was brought to me almost immediately, and I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed only because I’d been pretty excited about the Berek Bi Lahme. I was not, however, disappointed in the Tabbouleh, which was both sour and refreshing at the same time.
When the Berek Bi Lahme arrived, the two pastries were served on a few sprigs of chopped parsley. The pastries were hot and puffy, and the ground beef inside was savory with just the slightest hint of sweet.
Every few bites, some scolding hot juice from the ground beef would seep out of the pastry, burning my mouth. I couldn’t help myself. These were delicious, and I just needed to eat them as quickly as possible.
The Palmyra Chicken took a bit long, but it’s understandable. You can’t rush art. And when it finally arrived, what lay before me was nothing less than sublime.
The chicken thighs were savory, juicy, tender, and with just a bit of char — taking the flavor profile of the already well-seasoned poultry to another level. The chicken was served with a small cup of creamy garlic sauce, which perfectly complemented the chicken.
The grilled vegetables, consisting of a few sliced onions and squash, were a nice addition to the grilled chicken, but the rice really sealed the deal. Served with a few slivered almonds, the rice was fragrant, almost floral, and had a little bit of a bite.
Altogether, the meal was well worth the money that The Monitor will be reimbursing me for, and I’ll definitely be back.
If you’re in the mood for some mouthwatering Arabic cuisine and friendly service, then I highly recommend you give this a try. Fares Arabic Cuisine is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.