South Boulevard is an interesting area of Charlotte.
It’s not bright, shiny, and new like Ballantyne.
It’s not posh like SouthPark.
It’s not cool and hip like Plaza Midwood.
South Boulevard is one of the older parts of Charlotte, with aging strip malls and shopping plazas that have seen better days.
It’s got a strong ethnic mix. And by that, I mean – EVERYONE!
Due to the comparatively lower rents and ethnic mix, you can find some real hidden gems in retail and restaurants.
For example – Jaipur, one of my favorite Indian restaurants.
And a little further down the road, one of my newest favorites – the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern/Halal restaurant, Jasmine Grill.
Truth be told, I didn’t actually go to Jasmine Grill – in these COVID19 times, I ordered delivery. Several times. (Doordash.)
Quite frankly, I ordered out of desperation. I’d been trying delivery through DoorDash, and my “free” month was almost up.
(Doordash – and Grubhub, and every other delivery service except Postmates is limited to your “neighborhood.” Depending where you live, that could be great for some. For me, that means SouthPark, Ballantyne, and a small bit of South Bouleverd – in other words, very limited veg and ethnic restaurants.)
The prices were favorable compared to the few other Mediterranean options on the menu.
I decided to take a chance.
The wraps were excellent. The falafel was fresh, the pita soft, and the wrap was loaded with veggies.
For $5.49, you get what some places try to pass off as TWO falafel wraps!
Plus a large order of fries. If you like skinny fries, these are some of the best in Charlotte.
Between the falafel wrap and the fries, this is easily enough to suit a hearty appetite. Probably most women and those with lighter appetites could make two meals from this. (I did.)
The falafel wrap came with two sauces on the side – a white sauce and a red sauce.
Mohammed Mahrousa, originally from Syria and owner of Jasmine Grill for eight years, assured me the house-made white sauce was vegan – just garlic, oil, salt, and lemon.
“No yogurt or eggs?” I asked, to clarify.
Both sauces were simply amazing.
The red sauce is usually store bought (because red jalapeno peppers are hard to come by here). It is vegan as well – red peppers and a little oil and spice.
What is the difference between a Middle Eastern falafel wrap and a Greek falafel wrap?
Mostly, it’s the sauce.
Often, a Greek restaurant will offer just a tzatziki (yogurt based) sauce. (You’ll need to ask for hummus to avoid a dull, dry sandwich.)
A Middle Eastern restaurant will usually offer you one or more of the following: tahini sauce (vegan); white sauce (may or may not be mayo or yogurt based – you need to verify); and skhug sauces, green or red. Green sauce is usually milder green hot peppers and cilantro. Red sauce is red pepper based and a little more fiery.
Veggie Delight Appetizer
This was a sampler of some of the most common appetizers – falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, and grape leaves (also called yalagni in Middle Eastern restaurants and dolmas in Greek restaurants).
I was expecting each to be packaged in different containers. To my surprise, the appetizer came beautifully plated in the delivery box. All items were good, but the baba ghanoush was something special
For me to say the Baba Ghanoush was something special, truly means it was something special. I am not a huge fan of eggplant. I am not a big fan of baba ghanoush. At least half the time when I order a sampler platter, I’m convinced they’ve brought me two hummus (hummuses? hummi?) and left off the baba ghanoush. The texture of both is identical, and I can only taste tahini.
The texture is creamy, but a mashed sort of creaminess. You can still see a few small seeds, a bit of eggplant stringiness and very small soft chunks here and there. A bit of eggplant flavor, along with a wonderful, charred smokiness. You can actually believe this eggplant was grilled and charred, instead of just steamed and tossed into a blender with some smoked paprkia. It came with pita bread, but was so delicious I actually just ate some of it with a spoon.
Mohammed explained that he likes to keep things simple, to let the taste of the eggplant shine through. He doesn’t use a lot of spices – no garlic – rather, just salt, lemon, and sugar. “If the food is good, you don’t need a lot extra. I love the tentative way a little sugar delicately breaks out the taste of the food. And salt. You really don’t need much else.”
Note: I am not a no-oil person, but I am a low-oil person. This came drizzled with olive oil. No biggie – I was able to spoon the excess oil from the top. If you are also a low-oil person, you can just request to skip the olive oil drizzle.
Tapoleh – also known as tabbouleh. It’s served different ways in different places. Sometimes, it’s mostly bulgur wheat, with a little bit of parsley. And other times – my favorite times – it’s mostly parsley, with a little bit of bulgur wheat.
At Jasmine Grill, it’s mostly parsley.
I don’t know what it is about mostly parsley tabouleh. It certainly detoxifies your breath. I also have the sensation it is detoxifying my blood – it just tastes so fresh and healthy. (OK, I’m not a health expert, just saying I FEEL healthy when I eat a parsley salad.) But parsley IS good for you – vitamins A, K, and C. It’s also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Have omnivore friends you are dining with or sharing your takeout order? Jasmine Grill’s menu is short but focused, with all the classic items you’d expect to find on a halal menu – shawarma, kebobs. The rice is suitable for anyone – no chicken broth nor chicken fat.
Jasmine Grill 5033 South Blvd Charlotte NC, 28217 (980) 207-1859
Delivery available through Doordash (and likely Postmates if you are “out of range”)
I’ve been using Doordash and Grubhub a lot during these times, both at home and at work. Have discovered some new to me restaurants, although since I live near Northlake and work in Harrisburg, my options are very limited. I’m hardly every on South Blvd. but if I ever find myself in that area of the city, I will have to check them out.