Leaving the Broward Mall, we found an unlikely Middle Eastern oasis in a little shopping plaza across University Drive. Step into Baraka Mediterranean Market & Grill in Plantation, and take a moment to enjoy the heady aromas of sizzling garlic and onion as well as lamb shanks, kafta kebabs and whatever else chef Amira Beehara has cooking.
A 25-year veteran of restaurants in Venezuela and the United States, Beehara specializes here in dishes from her native Syria and Lebanon that are a hit with patrons of the adjacent hookah bar. Baraka also has shelves and refrigerated displays of olive oils, bulgur, feta and other ingredients, but owner Amir Ghourra says he is reducing the market space to make room for more tables. Beehara’s food certainly deserves a bigger showcase.
The long list of starters includes ultra creamy hummus topped with sautéed beef tips and toasted pine nuts. We also loved the delicious foul mudammas, homey fava beans simmered in garlic, lemon and oil with onions and tomatoes. It’s very saucy, but packed securely in a plastic container for takeout.
Fresh parsley and a splash of lemon add brightness to a chopped house salad with romaine, tomatoes and cucumbers that accompanied our dinner entrees. The chicken kebab plate includes a generous amount of meat served off the skewer with fluffy, almond-studded rice and warm pita, wrapped tightly in aluminum so it stays warm for the trip home.
If you’re indecisive, go for the combo plate, with juicy, tender slices of grilled beef, chicken and kafta, a highly seasoned minced beef mixture. Baraka also serves Middle Eastern-style wraps including falafel and chicken shawarma topped with pickles and garlic sauce. And don’t forget to grab some baklava for a late-night snack.