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Nunu's Mediterranean Cafe & Market

3131 W. Memorial Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 751-7000

Nunu's Mediterranean Cafe & Market

Quite a few of my meals have been spent trying different Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants in Oklahoma City, but as far as I am concerned it is always a good thing when more are opened. Not only is this one of the most delicious types of food in the world, it is also recognized as being one of the healtiest. The owner of Nunu's in far north Oklahoma City serves recipes that originated in Lebanon and nearby countries and have been handed down for generations, and the care that is taken to serve authentic food is obvious. I consider Nunu's one of the better Mediterranean style restaurants, although it is a hard choice since every one I have tried has been good.

Nunu's is a "Cafe & Market," with display cases showcasing food and ingredients that can be taken home to be prepared. A grill behind the counter is used to prepare orders cooked in the restaurant, and these can be taken home as well. The menu includes both meat and vegetarian dinner plates, and several items are available a la carte. I usually do not order a plate with side dishes, but rather I have found it affordable to just pick out the individual items I want.

Veggie plate
Veggie plate with tabouli, pita, houmos, lentil and rice pilaf, and veggie cabbage roll

A veggie sampler plate I ordered contained most of the vegetarian items that are served. The Veggie Cabbage Roll was quite good, being hand rolled with rice, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans cooked with lemon juice. Although only one cabbage roll was served, there were enough other items so that it was a substantial meal.

Houmos was a vegetarian side dish, and is also served on a number of the meat plates. This was more flavorful than most, although I also detected what seemed to be a greater than average amount of garlic. The texture was just right, and there was enough olive oil to make this a good dip for the pita bread. I will have to say, though, that in the time I have been going to Nunu's this has evolved from a good dish to a great one, with the flavorings (and not the garlic) becoming more pronounced, and I now think this is possibly the best version of the dish in the city.

Tabouli was very fresh and well balanced. I think this is probably the best in north Oklahoma City, although I do not know how it would compare if I expanded the sample area.

The cabbage roll was served on a bed of Lentil and Rice Pilaf, a very fresh and filling serving of this vegetable mixture with onions mixed in for flavor.

Lentil pilaf
Lentil pilaf

The Lentil Pilaf is also served by itself as a main dish, but I thought the flavor was not as vibrant as some of the other vegetarian dishes. I prefer the pilaf as a complement to other things rather than a main dish.

Lentil soup
Lentil soup comes in a cup or a bowl (shown in photo)

A fresh home made style Lentil Soup was so full of carrots and other vegetables that it provided a good complement to the lentils. The soup also had a strong lemon flavor. The soup makes a good main or side dish, and is probably one of my favorite items at Nunu's. Although the flavor is excellent, probably the best feature is that a bowl (the large size) has enough lentils to be filling almost as a meal in itself. Lentil soup comes with a toasted pita bread that tastes excellent and makes it more filling.

I really think a bowl of lentil soup and a side dish (such as houmos) is enough of a meal to satisfy most appetites.

Falafel plate
Falafel plate

After initially being very impressed with the Falafel Plate I later experienced it as being very dry, and this was particularly apparent compared to other restaurants such as Camilya's. The flavor, freshness, and texture were very good, but this was not enough to make it one of my favorite dishes. The tahini sauce was particularly good.

Cabbage rolls
Cabbage rolls with houmos and tabouli

Although the lentil soup and houmos are standout dishes, most of the best items I have found are meat dishes. Probably the best example is the order of Cabbage Rolls made with beef, spices, and clarified butter. These were not only good, they were the type of cabbage roll that will make me want to return whenever possible for a "fix." A slight sour taste made them seem a little like German style food, but the mixture of spices were an excellent representation of Middle Eastern cooking. Although I was sorry to see Eddy's close with its signature cabbage rolls, the ones as Nunu's are the best replacement I have found so far.

Chicken kabob
Chicken kabob

The Chicken Kabob was perfectly cooked with excellent quality meat. I liked it because it had enough seasoning to make it appetizing but not so much that I felt I was being overwhelmed by garlic and other spices. I would even go so far as to say this is one of the better chicken kabobs that I think I will probably find anywhere.

Nunu's offers daily specials that seem to be as good or better than the regular dishes. One example was Sheik El Mihshee, a beef and eggplant dish that was served with Salata, a Lebanese style salad. Although the regular menu is somewhat limited, ordering the specials provides a much broader experience of Lebanese cuisine.

When the Meat Pie is on the special menu this is also a good choice. I thought it had a very good seasoning.

Hashwa, rice with beef, is Nunu's signature dish (according to the menu), and comes with most plates except the vegetarian ones. It can be seen under the chicken kabob in the photo, and is cooked with carified butter and topped with toasted almonds. I thought it was quite a bit better than the lentil and rice pilaf (served with the veggie sampler plate), and is rightly called Nunu's signature dish.

The Pita bread has consistently been my biggest disappointment at Nunu's, but like some other items it has improved since the restaurant opened. I particularly like the toasted pita that comes with the lentil soup.

Nunu's serves a hot tea that is not Middle Eastern style such as the one Cous Cous Cafe serves, but is good enough to be my choice when I eat here.

Several types of Baklava and home made desserts are served, and all I have tried have been excellent (in fact, among the best I have eaten).

Nunu's is open an hour later than normal during the summer, but even during its extended hours the closing times are about the same as most other restaurants. The restaurant is casual, with food served on paper plates, but the dining room is comfortable and the patio is great when the weather is nice.

Camilya's, a very similar restaurant, is located about two miles away, and I think it is a tough choice deciding between the two. Both cook on a small scale, giving a home made flavor. Nunu's is Lebanese, while Camilya's uses recipes from Syria. Nunu's has more specials and a slightly larger menu, but there are items I like better at Camilya's. Camilya's is open later in the evening, but Nunu's has a larger dining room. To me it is hard to choose between the two, but I always find things I enjoy at both. (Note: as of 2010 Cous Cous Cafe opened a branch near Quail Springs Mall, so now there are at least three choices for Mediterranean cuisine in the immediate area).

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RESTAURANT DETAILS

RATING: 23

Cuisine: Mediterranean Lebanese
Cost: $$
Hours: M-Thu 11am to 7pm; Fri-Sat 11 am to 8pm
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: No
Special Features: Deli & Market, Outdoor Patio, Hours Extended during Summer

Most Recent Visit
Feb. 21, 2011

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Items
Cabbage Rolls, Chicken Kabob, Hashwa, Lentil Soup, Houmos, Baklava

Special Ratings
Cabbage Rolls:
Veggie Cabbage Rolls:
Falafel:
Chicken Kabob:
Sheik el Mihshee:
Hashwa:
Tabouli:
Houmos:
Lentil Soup:
Lentil and Rice Pilaf:
Pita:
Baklava:



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