Lexington: Sahara Mediterranean Cuisine Offers Authentic Dishes
by Kindsey Bernhard
The city of Lexington is full of local restaurants that many people have not heard of that are outside the five-mile radius of the college campus.
Sahara’s Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant is one that makes the 15-minute drive outside of campus all worth it. Sahara opened in 2007 and has been serving Lexington authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food that you will not find anywhere else in the city. Located right next to the Beaumont Centre, you would not expect a such restaurant to be a part of a strip mall situated between a Baskin Robbins and a Nail Care salon.
After placing my order with the woman at the counter, I was given a plaque with a number and took my seat where my order was brought when it was ready. I ordered an appetizer of three falafels and the vegetarian fava beans over hummus as my entree.
The falafels were served within minutes after I sat down. This was my first time eating a falafel and I was in for a great surprise. Sahara’s falafels are a mixture of chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, onion, jalapeño, and seasoning. They are deep fried and served with garlic sauce, a Mediterranean Hushpuppy.
The outside of the falafel was the right amount of crunchiness and the inside was warm and soft and served to perfection. The addition of the garlic sauce was the perfect touch that will have me coming back for more.
Ten minutes later, the waiter delivered the fava beans and hummus. The dish consisted of fava beans beans topped with a garlic, lemon and jalapeño dressing, served over hummus with a side two large round pieces of pita bread
As someone who does not eat Mediterranean food very much, I was not sure how to eat the dish properly. After quick look around the restaurant, I realized that you break off pieces of the pita bread and dip them into the beans and hummus.
I first began eating hummus a little over two years ago and it has since become one of my favorite spreads. I buy my hummus from the grocery store because as a college student that’s the easiest way to get it. After taking my first bite of the beans and hummus, I realized that the grocery store hummus is nothing compared to the hummus of an authentic Mediterranean restaurant.
The hummus tasted real and full of flavor, nothing like the processed kind that you buy from the grocery store. Every time you scooped your pita bread into the dish, olive oil was seeping out of the hummus. I will never eat grocery store hummus again because you can go in the restaurant and buy a container of Sahara’s hummus.
The fava beans added a thickness to the hummus that made eating only hummus and pita bread acceptable as a meal in itself. Beans can be bland, but the garlic and lemon gave the beans flavoring that made them enjoyable to eat by themselves.
I never thought I would be able to finish the two pieces of pita bread, but there I was 30 minutes later with both of them gone. The two large pieces of pita bread were not enough for the amount of hummus and beans given. Thankfully, I packaged up the rest in a to-go box to save for another day.
Sahara’s is a casual restaurant that makes you feel like you’ve escaped the crowded college town. The décor around the restaurant is all Middle Eastern that adds to the experience of eating there.
There may be other Mediterranean restaurants in Lexington, but you won’t regret taking the extra time to try Sahara because it’s “where friends mingle and families celebrate”.
Sahara Mediterranean Cuisine & International Market
3061 Fieldstone Way, Suite #1200
Lexington, Kentucky 40513
Phone: (859) 224-1138
Monday-Saturday: 11 AM – 7 PM
Kindsey Bernhard has written for Kentucky Sports Radio and currently interns for the Northern Kentucky Tribune. She is a journalism student at the University of Kentucky.