Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sahara: Too Much of a Good Thing

Today, I got lunch buffet at Sahara Middle Eastern Cuisine. No time to blog about it. Will probably fill this in with comments if there's interest. Really liked the cardamom scented coffee, honey-soaked desserts, baba ganouj, ful mudammas (fava beans), and the okra and artichoke hearts were especially good. Still feeling my torso pulled taut by the cheese pies, green beans, mini falafels... the list goes on. Since I'm short on time, a quote from Richmond.com's Kari Peifer will have to do:

And Southside residents have plenty to be excited about too. Sahara Middle Eastern Cuisine (9550 Midlothian Tpke., (804) 272-4111) opened just over a month ago in the spot once occupied by India Garden & Grill. This new restaurant serves a wide variety of Middle Eastern dishes for lunch and dinner, but the real treat is it lunch buffet.

Every Monday through Friday, for less than $10, you can feast on dolmades, gyros, falafel, four varieties of rice dishes, baklava and much, much more. It's like your own Lebanese food festival six days a week ... with one exception. There's no wine, beer or liquor sold at Sahara and they don't plan on adding it. But really, with so much good food, who needs wine?

"We ate too much."


  1. I really enjoyed the buffet today and dinner there the other night. When we went for dinner, my date and I ordered the Mixed Shish & Kebab which came with salad, and a choice of baba ganouj or hummus. It was plenty of food for two for only 19.99. As someone who is new to middle eastern cuisine, the buffet provided the perfect opportunity to sample many different things at one time. I hope that business picks up so I have a place on the southside to get great baba ganouj.

  2. Hey, there's Petra Market at Arch & Midlothian & Jerusalem Halal at Hull & Turner for baba ganoush.

    If that ain't dogtown, I don't know what is.

    My son and I had lunch there earlier this summer.. it wasn't bad. We didn't have the buffet; I had the falafel pita and he had the fried eggplant pita.

  3. Thanks for the recommendation. I've seen this place but no one I know has tried it. My Ex is a vegetarian and lives close to there and it could easily become a regular place for him.

  4. They have meat at the buffet too. Two kinds of gyros, lamb noodle soup, the okra and artichoke hearts had beef involved (I just had a little taste). Fried cauliflower and eggplant. Those were both good. For some reason, there were chicken nuggets and chicken tenders, french fries and curley fries. Oh, and typical salad stuff as well as a an arabic salad that was like tabouli w/o the bulgar.

    I recognized one of the proprieters from Aladdin's. I won't try to spell his name, cuz I'd mess it up. Funny how that place seems to have incubated a number of Middle Eastern restauranteurs. Meanwhile, that Midlothian Tpk location has sunk a few eateries in pretty short order. Try Sahara while you can.

  5. Anonymous6:21 PM

    You don't know me, but I like to read your restaurant reviews. Upon reading this review my husband, two boys, and I went to Sahara this afternoon. It was decent, but I can't say that I'd rave about it. We live in the southside, but I don't know we'll be back. Maybe it was an off day, but it had the air of a doomed restaurant about it. Almost nobody there, very small portions on the buffet, worried looking waitstaff. And $6 for a two-year-old to eat off the buffet? Granted, he made $6 worth of mess at the table, but he definitely didn't eat 6 bucks worth of food. I took issue with this, and they ended up not charging us, but it's obvious that kids don't come in much. Anyway, thanks for the review, and even though this place wasn't a hands down winner in my book, I'd try somewhere else you recommend. In fact, we did; we went to that pizza joint at Broad and Foushee you blogged about a couple months ago.

  6. Anon: Best comment I've gotten yet.
    1) You don't know me. I'd love to see more people I don't know fighting over food/politics on this blog.

    2) You followed my recommendation.

    3) You filled in all the gaps that I should have tended to in my first initial post. The curly fries and chicken tenders were my acknowledgment of the desperate measures. But, amid the odditites at the buffet, I found enough gems to warrant a blog post. And, it turns out that Richmond.com had already said about the same thing. Well, now the saying is true, "Try Sahara while you can."

    Thanks again. I hope I keep screwing up enough to inspire more strangers to jump in and set the record straight. "The air of a doomed restaurant and worried looking staff." Classic lines from a diner who's willing to eat off the beaten path. I hope you'll comment again.


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