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Delicious, Reasonably Priced Middle Eastern food at Damas Restaurant in Ann Arbor

There's No Reason to Fear the Strip Mall!

If you’re in Ann Arbor, possibly looking for a new place to try for Middle Eastern food, check out Damas Restaurant in Woodland Plaza, on the corner of Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. It’s right around the corner from Busch’s Market, in the former Biwako Sushi Ann Arbor location. The first thing one notices is from the moment guests walk in the door, the staff and owner greet everyone warmly. It’s apparent they genuinely want customers to have a great experience; that pleasing welcome is only one of several reasons why myself and family members often choose Damas above other Middle Eastern restaurants. Another detail worth mentioning is the parking. Yes, being downtown is a cool experience, it’s lively vibe, people-watching, and the opportunity to walk to another spot for after dinner cocktails. But, sometimes my family and I have one of those days or nights, maybe it’s been hectic, or perhaps dinner or lunch is an afterthought — sometimes convenience trumps the downtown scene. I’m not saying one should only visit Damas Restaurant when the night is rushed, my point is that the available parking right outside the restaurant door is a bonus. With all of this in mind, authentic, delicious food, the friendly service, and the convenient parking, Damas is an excellent choice, so a word of advice in this situation is: do not fear the strip mall!

I suggest starting with hummus or grape leaves as an appetizer. Damas offers three varieties of hummus: traditional, ginger, and spicy, offered in two sizes, small and large. My favorite is the traditional style, and I recommend the large size; based on experience, the large order is optimal for dining parties of 3-5 adults, request a second order if there are more than five people in your party. As for the grape leaves, my personal favorite of the two available types is the vegetarian style, because my entrèe often is meat-based, so I like to switch things up and go meatless for the appetizer. These grape leaves are filled with seasoned rice, simply perfectly piquant, with lemon juice enhancing and contrasting perfectly with aromatic spices and onion. 

Any choice on the menu from salads to the dinner plates are an excellent choice, but recently my dining partners and I decided to order off of the “Simply Sandwiches” list, which features popular items such as falafel, beef kabab, chicken or meat shawarma, and meat kafta. We chose three sandwiches, and divided and shared among one another: falafel, chicken shawarma, and meat kafta. All three stand alone as excellent choice, but sometimes sharing is best — then one can have a little bit of each! The falafel is perfectly crispy on the outside, while retaining a flavorsome, moist center. The chicken shawarma is savory, and quite tender for white meat, as is the shish kafta — an equally delectable item. For a finale, try the baklava; it is simply ambrosial, with perfect crisp layers of filo pastry, lightly sweetened nut filling, which make a fine finish to the meal.

The only aspect that detracts from Damas Restaurant’s experience is the server’s lack of experience, and occasional slight oversights. However, all are easily forgiven, as her genuine kindness and pleasant attitude outweigh any minor drawbacks. All in all, remember not to fear the strip mall, and give Damas Restaurant a try!