Friday, February 18, 2011

Lunch Review! Raya's Lebanese Restaurant

Oh boy was I hungry this morning. I knew that it was going to be a big lunch day when 10:00 rolled around and my stomach was making noises alternating between those made by tectonic movements and those made by packs of various furry, carnivorous beasts.

To my (and my stomach's) horror, before I could go to lunch I had to do the dance I seem to do every time I go out for lunch. Literally. Every. Time.

"Sushi?" "Too light."
"Mexican?" "Too heavy."
"A burger?" "Ditto."
"Salad?" "Boooooooooring."
"A sandwich?" "Yeah. Let's get a sandwich. It's not like you eat one every day during the rest of the week from your lunchbox."

This is one of the curses of working downtown. Pretty much any kind of food you could want is within walking distance and you (or at least I) become paralyzed with choice. With pretty much every cuisine eliminated from the running, I first decided to go to Cafe de Paris and eat in Piatt Park, but it was a bit too windy to sit outside and read while eating my lunch, so, in a stroke of genius, I decided to head to Raya's Lebanese Restaurant and have a gyro.

I had been to Raya's once before and apparently liked it enough for it to pop into my head on the verge of starvation. It is located on Court St., next to the other restaurants that are propped up by HamCo./Krogers employees. There were two food trucks out front when I walked by: Cafe de Wheels and a hotdog one I didn't catch the name of. I can always go for a Wheels Burger, but I decided that I had probably been eating too many burgers lately.

Because Raya's is not much to look at inside, I didn't take any pictures. It's small and it has tables and chairs. It could easily be a venue for any other cuisine in the world. Not a knock; just saying.

I ordered a gyro and a side of hummus and, to be healthy, I decided to forego the fries. Hell-bent on destroying my chance to not be a glutton at lunch, the cashier countered that fries were free with any wrap that day. Ok, so I didn't forego the fries. In fact, I ate every one of them.

(Raya's: Healthy unless you like fries too much)

The food was about as good as I remember it. Gyros are pretty tough to mess up, but on the other hand, tough to make stand out. It was solid. It didn't blow my mind or anything, but I don't think I've ever eaten one that did. The hummus was a little underseasoned. It probably could have used some garlic.

Surprisingly, the fries were really, really good. They were well-seasoned and very crispy. I never understand why Mediterranean places serve fries as the default side with a lot of sandwiches, particularly since most of the time they just seem like such a poor effort. Perhaps it's because they're serving Americans who can't go a few hours without eating something fried. Who knows. Regardless, these were good. Would I rather be able to sub in something healthier and a little more authentic? Of course, but I'll take what I can get.

Is Raya's great? Nope. It certainly reaches the threshold for good, though. My fiancee has had their vegetarian combo before, which has hummus, baba ghanouj, falafel, and taboulli. So it's not that there aren't healthier options. It's just that I didn't want to eat them. I'm sure I'll be back. Good and cheap (<$10 for all of the above plus a Diet Coke) is an ok combo in my book.

Raya’s Lebanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon