Middle Eastern Comfort at Arabesque via Boulder Weekly

Note: I recently was asked to start writing for Boulder Weekly. Once a month I’ll be sharing my reviews and thoughts on restaurants in Boulder County. This is my first article which you can read in it’s entirety here.

Arabesque is one of my favorite (hidden) lunch spots in Boulder.


These are my opening thoughts:

With my Italian family, the kitchen is the focal point of our lives. Gathering around the kitchen table is where we find ourselves as we sit through laughter, joy, sadness and loss. It is our common denominator and of course there is always endless food to fill our bellies. Visiting my Nunnie and Popo (Calabrese Italian for ‘Grandma’ and ‘Grandpa’) on the East Coast, their small kitchen is really the only place we socialize and for that reason it’s incredibly special as we all find ourselves back there on those old, wooden chairs, year after year.

Arabesque’s small, sun-lit restaurant evokes that same special kind of inviting kitchen that wraps you up, enveloping you in warmth as soon as you enter.

Owner/Chef Manal Jarrar was born in Israel and she helps transport customers gastronomically through her authentic, home-style Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Sitting in a small brick building off the beaten path on the corner of 16th and Walnut, they’ve been open since 2009 and are only open 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch.

Jararr is the epitome of warmth and hospitality. The moment you walk into the small restaurant you see her smiling broadly over a pot, stirring, humming and dancing around the kitchen. You can always find Jarrar — who was a longtime ballerina — gracefully whisking through the restaurant, hugging and chatting with customers, clearing tables, making jokes tableside, ringing guests up at the end of their meal and singing to herself as she prepares dishes from scratch in the open kitchen over the only two burners in the restaurant. Along with her quippy sense of humor that’s infectious, it’s obvious that she finds deep gratitude and joy in cooking and sharing her favorite childhood dishes from both sides of her family.

The menu is small and hand-written on a chalkboard, so the experience is casual yet comfortable. I prefer the Chicken Shawarma Plate ($11) and her baklava, if I’m not too stuffed already.  Everything is made in house (she wouldn’t have it any other way) and it truly is a comforting place to enjoy a leisurely lunch in this family-run restaurant.

You can read the rest of the article on Boulder Weekly here.