Best Middle Eastern


810 E. University Blvd.

READERS' PICK: Sinbad's scores high marks for its richly varied menu. The usual Middle Eastern classics here are delicious, but try something you've never heard of: On a recent visit we enjoyed manaesh, something like focaccia with lots of olive oil, ground oregano and sesame seeds. There are lots of off-the-beaten-track choices on Sinbad's menu. The food is consistently fresh and well seasoned, with lots of perfectly cooked veggies even in the meat dishes. The location in the old Geronimo Apartments is homey and inviting. Try the desserts; someone back there in the kitchen is an accomplished pastry chef and there's always something different. We polished off an order of basbusa, a square of coconutty, buttery sweet dense cake with an irresistable aroma of rosewater. Insh'allah Sinbad's will be serving great food to Tucsonans for a long time to come.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Nomads Café, 2920 N. Swan Road. No falafel here; instead you'll find an inviting taste of Morocco. Before we can even open our menus, a small plate of fresh dates and almonds is offered as a symbol of Moroccan hospitality. A quote on the menu catches our eye: "Each grain of couscous represents a good deed." Well, this must be our lucky day, as the pulverized pasta is abundant. An entire meal could be made on the glorious grain alone, either in a salad with the zesty zing of lemon, as a savory main dish, or even a cinnamony dessert. But we don't want to miss out on all the other enticing entrées. Decision-making is tortuous--no wonder they offer a "Tour of Morocco" multi-course meal ... "Guaranteed to take you to the Maghreb without getting on a plane."

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