Beryl Gorbman, Merida
Recently, a group of six of us went to Habibi’s in Chuburna. We loved it.
As soon as you walk in, you hear the plaintive music of of the middle-eastern harps, the wooden flutes, the distinctive drumming and the enthusiasm of the musicians. Then the irresistible odors hit you. When you fill your lungs with the garlic, cumin, lamb, mint, fresh vegetables and cardomam, you become a customer for life.
The buffet has several dozen dishes, including a lamb tartare with three kinds of sauces and other unexpected delights. Fresh pita bread was served in a cloth container. They have a variety of desserts, including baklava with pistachio. One of the best foods in the buffet line was what looked like an ordinary potato dish, but was mixed with large beans and perfect herbs. The baba ganouj was especially unusual and delicious. It had a smoky flavor.
The food items we’re relatively used to, like hummous, tabbouleh, tahini, stuffed grape leaves and falafel were all there along with many dishes I’d not seen before. My favorite was a fat roll of spiced meat and rice covered by a green vegetable. It reminded me of the stuffed cabbage my mom used to make, except the vegetable was something other than cabbage. The filling was light and fluffy.
You can ask for Arabic coffee and they’ll pour it into a tiny cup for you from a silver decanter. (You’ll want sugar.) The wait staff is professional and constantly available. You can can visit the buffet until you have to be carried out of there.
And while you’re eating, the entertainment starts.
All through dinner, I thought I heard parrots squawking. Young-hee and I ventured to the front of the restaurant and opened the sliding doors to a good-sized sunroom that housed three very loud large green parrots. Young-hee looked at one of them and said, “Hola.”
“Hello,” said the bird.
Habibi’s is located at 21 401 E Colonia Terranova (near Chuburna)
Bellydancing performances are only on the weekends.