Motto: Eat Honest ~ Eat Authentic ~ Eat Yafo
Here’s what to expect at Yafo Kitchen.
Tucked away in Morison Shopping Center is a new(ish) fast/casual restaurant that offers more than your traditional Mediterranean fare. People hear Mediterranean and automatically think gyros & pita bread ~ this eatery serves neither. Yafo Kitchen reaches across the Mediterranean Sea to the Middle East, creating an eclectic mix of ingredients you cannot find anywhere else in Charlotte. Their menu mimics this sense of adventure, coupling unknown masterpieces with the familiar comforts we all know well.
We had the pleasure of dining with executive chef, Shai Fargian, who walked us through our mezze: a selection of small dishes served at the beginning of our multi-coursed meal. We talked about what it was like growing up in Israel and how the “farm-to-table” concept comes naturally to him because that’s how restaurants make up their menu’s in the Middle East. Everything is sourced from their local economy and Fargian mirrors this notion at Yafo; you’ll find North Carolina’s own Goat Lady Dairy in his kitchen, along with Lindley Mills flour from Chapel Hill. However, sometimes there’s just no place like home, as Fargian described how he flies in all of his spices & raw tahini directly from his favorite market in Israel. It takes two-weeks for them to get here, but as soon as you taste his cuisine you can agree that it’s definitely worth the wait.
Cauliflower & Tahini
Brussels Sprouts made with White Balsamic & Dates
Beet Salad with Pistachios, Mint Vinaigrette & Goat Cheese
Baharat Spiced Beef & Pine Nuts with Hummus
Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese
As most of you know, I am a BIG sauce and condiment fan… the more choices there are the happier I am. So it was no shock to my dinner companions that I reached straight for three of chef Fargian’s signature sauces and enjoyed them all in one bite with Laffah & Falafel. From left to right:
- Schug (S-ch-ug): This is a traditional Yemeni hot sauce made of cilantro, jalapeños and olive oil.
- Habanero Hot Sauce: Be careful with this one, as it is very HOT. As I raised my hand chef Fargian immediately said “that’s one brave bite” and to be honest, yes… my mouth was deliciously on fire and I loved every moment of it.
- Tzatziki (Tza-zi-ki): Traditional Greek yogurt and cucumber spread.
Good thing I had a glass of Yafo’s Hibiscus Tea to wash it all down. We also sampled their Cucumber Lime Mint and Organic Tea; all of which I would highly recommend but I would have to say that the Cucumber Lime Mint was my favorite.
For our entree, we indulged in one of chef Fargian’s favorites, Sabich. This decadent wrap is enjoyed all over the Middle East, traditionally on Saturday mornings when you cannot cook because it’s the sabbath. It’s jam packed with eggplant, hummus, cucumber & tomato salad, cage-free hardboiled eggs, pickles, purple cabbage slaw, parsley, amba, tahini & schug. Umm… YUM! This quickly became one of my favorites as well and I will definitely be ordering it again and again.
There are so many flavorful concoctions happening at Yafo Kitchen that it wouldn’t be fair to simply call them a Mediterranean restaurant. When you visit this exceptionally delicious establishment, you can expect to taste flavors from all over the East and West and that’s what makes them not just a Mediterranean restaurant but a GREAT restaurant. Make sure to tell them Jess and Scoop Charlotte sent you!
720 Governor Morrison Street
Charlotte, NC 28211