Kelly the Culinarian: Food Find: Naf Naf Grill

Monday, January 9, 2012

Food Find: Naf Naf Grill

My love of Middle Eastern food runs deep. Back in college, my campus was directly adjacent to an eclectic, funky little cafe and coffee shop that served amazing hummus -- creamy, heavenly chickpea hummus topped with paprika and olive oil while still warm, which I enjoyed with a frozen coffee and toasted pita.

Then, I spent a month studying abroad in Egypt, experiencing exotic foods and sights I'd only checked out on the Internet. There was fuul, a breakfast dish similar to refried beans, kifta kababs made of spicy and tough meat and all of my beloved hummus that I could enjoy. We ate like kings for about $4 per day.
Now that I'm back stateside, I still search for the perfect hummus. I have my favorites - Sabra makes a great product, and the private-label brands at Aldi and Costco are both excellent.

Now, however, I have a new hook up. I asked my friend, Heather, to meet me for lunch at Naf Naf Grill. Unfortunately, I didn't realize there are three locations and we both ended up at different places. Eventually, we both ended up at the Naperville location on Freedom Drive.

For a Sunday afternoon, the place was fairly bustling with an interesting mix of people: families, couples and students. The interior includes both chic stainless steel counters along with natural wooden tables and dark-wood molded chairs. The entire place is accented with orange artwork, which makes the whole place seem like a cozy but sophisticated restaurant, even though this is the kind of place where you order at the counter and pick up your food.
I opted for the Veggie Feast, which was $9.99. It included falafal, hummus, tabule, purple cabbage salad and pitas. The pitas are what this place is known for: They're pillowy little bits of heaven that are airy and chewy. I also loved the hummus: it creamy and had a smoky aftertaste, which perfectly paired with pita. The falafel was a bit greasy for my taste, but was interesting nonetheless because they were far more moist than I usually encounter. The exterior had a nice crunch, and the inside was spongy while still having a substantial texture.

My only regret was that I didn't leave room for dessert. They had all kinds of baklava that I wish I could have tried, but couldn't possibly have forced down. As it is, I took home a generous amount. For $10, I got lunch and Tim got dinner. I'll definitely be going back, and you should make your way over there, too.


Maggie W said...

When we lived in Downers Grove I always wanted to try this place but never did. Now I'm really sad we didn't :( I'll have to remember this if I'm ever in Naperville.

Kim said...

Yummy! I love Middle Eastern and met another blogger at the Oasis Cafe yesterday. Naf Naf looks like they have awesome pitas, like you said!

Do you ever make your own hummus? We have tried Sabra and do not care for it. In fact, we cannot seem to find many pre-made that we like. I like Wild Garden hummus dip, but it's more like, well, dip!