Everyday Eats: Chicken Shawarma Plate at La Mirage
Get variety and big portions at this Mediterranean gem downtown
Posted Monday, August 6, 2012, 08:40AM
For lunch, a sandwich is always a good go-to, branching out and discovering a hidden gem can be a lot more satisfying. La Mirage, an unassuming Mediterranean restaurant on F street, is that kind of place.
The menu is more expansive than most, with many of the signature proteins available in wrap, salad, and even pizza form. These are all good options, but the entree plates give you the best value and variety. The chicken shawarma plate ($8.99) comes with a house salad, a generous portion of spicy, marinated chicken, basmati rice, hummus, and sauces. I'll get to that in a minute.
First, let's talk salad. Most places that serve a salad as part of their lunch specials offer up the saddest, most perfuctuory bowl of greens (typically iceberg) topped with two strings of shredded carrot and a cucumber slice if you are very lucky. I'm looking at you, every Thai restaurant in town. Not here. The house salad is crafted from crisp romaine, topped with tomato slices, cucumber, onion, and a garlicky cream dressing that tingles on the tongue without blowing out your tastebuds. It's served first, so you can munch on it while you wait for the main event.
Of the 11 options on the lunch entree menu (all under $10) the chicken shawarma looked the tastiest. Shawarma is my measuring stick for any Middle Eastern restaurant, and La Mirage's stood up to the others. It's juicy, a bit spicy, and with a little of that garlic and hot sauce mixed in, straight-up tasty. Test out your tolerance for it by dipping the tines of your fork into the creamy paste before spearing a piece of chicken -- most likely, a dab will do ya.
The sides were equally well executed. The hummus was smooth and silky, with a dollop of olive oil and a black olive on top, and the fluffy basmati rice was topped with slivered almonds and fresh parsley. After exhausting my appetite at lunchtime, I had enough to warm up as a snack the next day. The chicken held up... if anything, it was slightly tastier, even after being microwaved.
La Mirage Cafe & Grill is located at 815 F Street (map)
About the author: Erin Jackson is obsessed with finding the best cheap and tasty eats in San Diego. Keep up with her other food finds on EJeats.com.