The Scoop: Fusion food can be a little like courting: two different cuisines meet, and either thi...The Scoop: Fusion food can be a little like courting: two different cuisines meet, and either things go swimmingly, or, after a round of awkward small talk, it quickly goes south for everyone involved. In the odd coupling of Persian and Southwestern, it's more of a love-at-first-sight, sprint to the nearest cathedral, and get hitched type of match-up. Combining the native Persian cuisine of his father and the Southwestern eats he enjoyed in his college days in Arizona, the Chic Sheik in charge (also known as Jahan) is serving up some of the most crazy-delicious eats we've had in a while. Crazy, because the Sheik doesn't take himself too seriously (see the ridiculous plays on Farsi menu names); delicious, because this food, wacky as the idea might seem, is tasty. Really, really tasty, and made even more alluring by the fact that nearly all of the ingredients are locally sourced--some hyper-ultra-super-local, from Sheik's own backyard, further solidifying the notion that no way, this is not your average burrito joint. Then again, the "Persian" part probably tipped you off to that.
More unexpected than any kind of fusion we've really seen, Sheik playfully marries the best of Southwestern cuisines. Sure, it sounds strange, but it turns out that taking everything delicious about Persian cuisine and putting it in a burrito, so to speak, is above-and-beyond delicious. And the emphasis goes on playful, which you might notice from the time you walk in and see the wall mural displaying life in the Southwest on one end, ancient Iran at the other, and a ridiculous, satirical place called "Iraxico" in the middle, complete with harem girls in teetering heels ("because we're in the Cheshire Bridge area," Jahan explains). But back to the food. I never would have guessed that the chicote dip, which is essentially the product of a Persian roasted eggplant dish and good ol' Southwestern-style queso falling madly in love and making an awesome baby, would be quite that addictive. My empty saucer would prove otherwise, as I practically licked it clean. In my defense, I was trying to taste each of the 20-something spices and herbs (plucked straight from Sheik's garden out back) that make this dip their "breadwinner." That's just one example of how Sheik playfully but deliciously pulls off the unexpected. And if you need more examples, there are a couple dozen more waiting to be tried on the menu, from soups to salads to kabobs and, of course, the infamous burritos. Overwhelmed first-timers might be best off going straight to one of Sheik's signature options -- the La Camelback is especially addictive -- but for the creative, the confident, and/or the control freaks, there are plenty of DIY options. Come every day for Sheik's $10 beer and burrito combo, and you might get around to tasting all the possibilities in, oh, a couple years.
As playful as Sheik is, one thing they don't mess around with is the quality of their ingredients. The lamb is Niman Ranch; the beef is grass-fed from White Oak Pastures; the cocktails made with fresh-squeezed juices; the desserts include ATL's own King of Pops; the herbs travel approximately a dozen steps from Sheik's own garden into the kitchen, where they form the basis for all of the restaurant's house-made sauces and dips. Whether you're vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, or stricken with an immobilizing fear of garlic, there are plenty of options. Unless you dig boring food. For the vast majority of Scouts who don't, there's a wealth of fun for your tastebuds to have at Sheik. A sanctimonious union of cuisines? I do. You should, too.
Chicote Dip, $4
Sun Devil Beets, $5
Sheik Salad, $5
La Camelback Burrito, $9
La Happy Vegan Burrito, $8
La Dirka-Dirka, $11
King of Pops, $3
Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.