- 2101 S. Decatur Blvd., 382-1010.
- Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, noon-7 p.m.
Every time I sit down for lunch at Amena, I’m certain I’m the only person there who’s not a regular. I’m also usually the only customer not speaking Hebrew. Despite years of Sunday school, I’ve never been able to do much more than recite the Four Questions and order a beer. And Amena doesn’t have a bar.
It does have a full menu of Middle Eastern staples—creamy hummus, brightly herbal tabbouleh, chicken shawarma, minty lemonade—all listed behind the counter under the words “Hummus is Yummy.” Indeed, the hummus is yummy, available on its own, with mushrooms or meat, or as a component of the veggie combo ($10) alongside smoky baba ghanoush, labneh, tabbouleh and fresh-from-the-fryer falafel. Stuff the falafel into that pillowy pita (forget the chalky grocery-store variety) with your dip of choice, and you’ve got a vegetarian meal every bit as satisfying as the meatier alternatives.
Of course, there’s plenty of meat as well. Beef and chicken shawarma plates ($11) come with salad and hummus, or get either marinated meat in a pita sandwich for $9, topped to order with an assortment of veggies. Add a few dashes of the mysterious squeeze bottle hot sauce sitting on your table if you dare (and you should).
For another authentic taste of the Middle East, try shakshouka—two fried eggs in a thick sauce of marinated tomatoes, garlic, onions and spices. Part breakfast, part hearty lunch, it’s the kind of dish that tastes comforting from the moment you try it. Kind of like Amena. There’s something here that feels like home—and keeps bringing me back.