“We want you to feel like you’re in the Middle East, but you don’t know where,” owner Nasser Amer says. Sounds like an awesome culinary adventure without even having to use those extra SkyMiles.Dawali is a new Mediterranean restaurant in Lincoln Park that specializes in an eclectic mix of cuisines, notably Lebanese, Syrian, and Turkish. The BYO restaurant’s storefront on Halstead, just steps from Steppenwolf and the Royal George Theatre, is small but once you step inside, you’re in a long and open hall. Stained glass light fixtures hang from the high ceilings while hookahs, ornate teapots, and vases are displayed on the wall. Owner Nasser Amer says both the interior design and dishes highlight the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, though he hopes they don’t signify any one country or culture directly. “We want you to feel like you’re in the Middle East, but you don’t know where,” Nasser says. Sounds like an awesome culinary adventure without even having to use those extra SkyMiles.
Dawali, which means grape leaf in Arabic, is a partnership between Nasser, his business partner Asad, and another culinary school friend, Samer Jabsheh, who is the executive chef. The recipes at the Lincoln Park location come from Nasser’s Albany Park originals, but are heightened by unique additions from Samer. Nasser’s family once ran a butcher shop and he says having the background knowledge of meat is a big part of Dawali, though Asad points out that much of the menu is also vegan friendly. They wanted to bring something new to Middle Eastern food in Chicago and you won’t find a falafel sandwich like this anywhere else in the city. Dawali’s falafel is inspired by a regional specialty of Jerusalem, with fried potatoes, cauliflower, and eggplant. The Shawarma wrap is also a twist on a classic, made with flatbread, not pita, and grilled more like panini. They call Shawarma the “Cadillac of Meat”—it’s sliced steak, not ground like gyro meat.
Classic Falafel Sandwich, $4.95
Chicken Shish Kabab, $12.95
Beef/lamb Shawarma, $12.50
Side of Fries with curry sauce, $3.00
Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.