A new Greenville restaurant offers one of the world's most popular street foods to local diners in a fast casual restaurant concept.
YABA Mediterranean Grill, at 1201 Charles Blvd., specializes in authentic shawarma: seasoned beef or chicken stacked on a rotating vertical spit and roasted slowly on all sides. The meat cooks from the outside, and, as the spit turns, the meat is thinly carved off for serving.
You can see the shawarma cooking behind the counter when you enter the narrow restaurant, which is in the former location of The Buzz Coffee House beside Domino's Pizza.
The thin slices of grilled meat are served up either as a sandwich in a pita, or in a take-out box "bowl" on a bed or rice or lettuce.
As if the shawarma itself is not enough of a culinary adventure, Yaba offers a wide variety of sauces, condiments, garnishes and salads for customizing your dish -- from mild and cool to pungent and spicy. The tantalizing toppings, set before diners in a refrigerated display, include fresh sliced tomatoes, green peppers, jalapenos and banana peppers; black olives; spiced onions; feta cheese; creamy taziki made with cucumbers and yogurt; traditional chickpea hummus; crunchy purple turnip pickles; and flavorful Jerusalem salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and sesame tahini.
There's also melt-in-your-mouth stuffed grape leaves, falafel (fried chickpea patties), baba ghanouj (eggplant spread), and tabbouleh (a super fresh salad made with bulgur wheat, fresh parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice).
The Yaba staff walks you through your customization, answers questions, allows you to sample, asks about the flavors you enjoy -- and makes the process simple and enjoyable.
Yaba -- the names means "dad" in Arabic dialect -- is the sister restaurant of Greenville's popular Bateeni Mediterranean Grill & Café in the medical district at 1868 W Arlington Blvd., near K&W Cafeteria.
A few of Bateeni's most popular items -- like honey infused baklava, swirly tornado fries and the much celebrated mint lemonade -- also will be offered at Yaba soon.
Owners are Asif Daher and Nader Aldeen and their families.
Inside Yaba, there's seating at booths and a high counter. Outside on a covered portico there are four tables that seat four patrons each.
Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. To place an order for pick-up, call 252-689-1227.
Jane Welborn Hudson, a native of Greenville, wrote The Daily Reflector's Hot Dish restaurant column for 12 years and the Greensboro News & Record's Short Orders restaurant column for 8 years. Email her at email@example.com.