Eats Beat

New Mediterranean restaurant draws city diners to Crowley

Chicken shawarma with hummus at Aladdin Cafe between Fort Worth and Crowley.
Chicken shawarma with hummus at Aladdin Cafe between Fort Worth and Crowley. bud@star-telegram.com

This might be a town of cowboy hats and monster trucks, but the best restaurant serves Lebanese food.

Some of the diners are still learning to pronounce “gyros” or “shawarma.”

But on social media, they’re all raving about Aladdin Cafe.

In a year, Moroccan-born Youness Laarioui has established his tiny, family cafe as a Burleson-Crowley local favorite.

It has a 5-star rating from both Yelp.com and TripAdvisor.com diners, with some very genuine and heartfelt comments about the Laarioui family and staff.

Laairoui knows the cooking: He worked at Arlington’s first-rate Beirut Rock Cafe.

Aladdin Cafe offers a huge menu with everything from kebabs to lamb chops, salmon and shrimp dishes.

It’s Lebanese, but the menu also includes Moroccan harira soup, and Laarioui said he uses some Moroccan spices.

On a visit this week, the chicken shawarma ($9.49 lunch, $11.99 dinner) was both ample and flavorful, served with house-made hummus and a potent garlic sauce.

Greek salads with feta (and often grilled chicken) have moved into mainstream dining, thanks to the growth of fast-casual Mediterranean chains such as Zoe’s.

Aladdin’s Greek salad ($4.99-$9.49) is simple but generously dressed, with more than the usual helping of feta and a light dressing that tastes housemade.

Lunches cost $6.99-$9.49. The menu also offers family-style dinners with hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, dolmades, lamb, kafta and chicken serving two to four ($29.99-$56.99).

Appetizers include less common dishes such as ful medames (fava beans with garlic), fried cauliflower and Greek spanakopita. There’s also Turkish coffee.

Laairoui said his family took a chance on the Crowley location, a former home-cooking cafe, because “there is such a potential market here, and the people are very nice.”

Aladdin is the best Lebanese or Mediterranean restaurant south of Fort Worth or Arlington, and the BYOB policy keeps it inexpensive for couples dining out.

Crowley customers mostly order the kebabs, shawarma and gyros, he said. (The menu also offers a hamburger and a Philly cheesesteak, and $5.99 kids’ meals.)

Aladdin Cafe is open for lunch and dinner weekdays and Saturdays, and will add Sunday hours in spring.

It’s at 10138 N. Crowley Road, south of Risinger Road (technically, between south Fort Worth and Crowley); 817-568-2294, aladdincafedfw.com.

There’s a new pop in town: Popbar

Popbar finally made it to Dallas-Fort Worth, and the very first local store is in Fort Worth.

The New York-based ice cream shop opened in the WestBend shopping center (the former River Plaza), between HG Sply Co. and SusieCakes.

Popbar offers all-natural gelato and real-fruit sorbet pops in 30 or more flavors, with a wide variety of dips, toppings and sprinkles.

It also sells a “Popwich,” a chocolate cookie-vanilla gelato version of an ice cream sandwich on a stick.

The first Popbar opened in 2010 in West Village in New York.

Popbar is open from noon till 9 p.m. weeknights, 10 p.m. weekends at 1621 River Run; 817-720-6630, pop-bar.com.

(Take a look along the river to see the new Bartaco restaurant and Ascension Coffee, both now under construction.)

Openings, closings: What’s new

▪ Yes, Eagle Mountain Tavern is finally open. It’s serving lunch and dinner daily and late weekends at 7255 Boat Club Road; 817-720-5355, eaglemountaintavern.com.

▪ Yes, City Works Eatery and Pour House is open, but it’s mostly a big sports bar with food; 5288 Monahans Ave., 682-207-1500, cityworksrestaurant.com.

▪ Yes, the new Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar will open any day now. It’s a Washington-based restaurant and bistro opening its first Texas location; 5289 Marathon Ave., 817-764-0025, twigsbistro.com.

▪ No, the new B&B Butchers & Restaurant steakhouse still isn’t open. The new guess is Dec. 18; 5212 Marathon Ave., 817-737-5212, bbbutchers.com/fortworth.

▪ The sign went up last weekend at the new Billy’s Oak Acres BBQ. Expect it to open around New Year’s; 7709 Camp Bowie Blvd. West, 817-367-2200, facebook.com/BillysOakAcresBbq.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, @EatsBeat.

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