Arpi's Phoenicia Deli lives up to its happy mascot with super salads
There have been a lot of changes in the across-the-street move of the 27-year-old Phoenicia Deli. But my favorite is the addition of matriarch Arpi Tcholakian's name to the new Arpi's Phoenicia Deli, just around the corner from the family's famous and amazing 55,000-square-foot Phoenicia Specialty Foods.
Arpi is the deli's diminutive mascot, and can often be found with a company cap on her head, greeting customers and generally making sure things are good and people are happy.
And frankly, most people are. The queue starts early, leading to a smorgasbord of Middle Eastern favorites.
The highlight of the spread is the meze selections, which start at just $1.50 for a petit portion — the better to mix and match your own personal feast. It includes everything from the simple yet well-made favorites like roasted cauliflower and beet salad to a a standout hummus and a a strong, piquant muhammarra (roasted red pepper, pomegranate and walnut ground into a creamy dip).
Those looking for a more structured meal can go for one of the amazing salads, including the falafel salad seasoned with a zesty sesame-tahini and olive oil dressing, or Arpi's salad, which features some to-die-for toasted hazelnuts, shanklish cheese vinaigrette, Aleppo pepper and zaatar. Both are great solo and even better with optional slices of shawarma lamb on top for an additional $2.
Phoenicia Deli lists their shawarma as a specialty, which is something of a shame in that they quite don't equal the taste potential of the meze and the salads. The chicken shawarma is by far the best, culled from slow-roasted chicken breast from one of the spits behind the counter and dressed with the potato, tomato and a garlic sauce. The beef version is somewhat tough and rather bland without adding a dip or two from the meze side (we recommend the tzatziki, hummus, or muhammarra).
One of the greatest additions in the new deli is the dedicated gelato and coffee bar. The turkish coffee gelato was a bit too fierce for me, but the lemon flavor is light and the perfect end to a meal. As for the coffees, they are served in cups with a reassuring heft, and my signature Choco-Halva latte, with a 'P' for Phoenicia drawn in on top, was a perfectly sweet end to an overflowing meal.
Arpi: Carry on.