The Mediterranean buffet of your dreams has arrived.
Technically, Andalous Mediterranean Grill in the Arlington Highlands is a cafeteria-style Lebanese restaurant. But with dishes, salads and sips served in silver trays on stone countertops, it’s more elegant than your typical buffet, yet keeps platters in the $10-$14 range.
While the founding Merched family owns the Fadi’s restaurants in Dallas and Houston, twins Sam and Wassim Merched struck out on their own and chose the name Andalous — a variation on the name of Spain’s Iberian peninsula region.
“Our goal is to have a nice-looking restaurant with five-star Mediterranean food, but casual enough to go every day,” Wassim Merched said.
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The flashy new Highlands location on Interstate 20 has a serving line that stretches along two sides of the dining room along with a simple, serve-yourself drink station with several iced tea flavors.
Explaining that the serving-line style allows newbies to see what they’re ordering, Merched added, “If we say ‘tabbouleh,’ they might not know what that is. But when they see it gourmet-style with a nice presentation, they’ll try it.”
Andalous is the first large-scale Lebanese restaurant in a Tarrant County market that supports both busy lunch buffets (think Terra in Fort Worth) and small family favorites like Prince in Arlington.
Merched said the brothers plan to open a new location every two years, expanding to far north and southwest Fort Worth, Grapevine and Richardson.
The top-of-the-line menu item is a sampler platter with an entree and four salads or side dishes ($13.49). A veggie sampler offers a dip, two salads and two sides for $10.99, and a large Greek salad, costing $6.99 or $9.98, has a choice of chicken or gyro.
A stone-oven bakery serves five breads and small meat, cheese or veggie pies. The children’s menu includes a $5.99 roast chicken plate.
Andalous is open daily for lunch and dinner at 457 E. Interstate 20, near the corner of South Center Street; 817-465-2100, andalousgrill.com.
If you love tiny Enchiladas Olé, or if you’ve never tried it, go this week.
Mary Patino Perez’s little artisan enchilada shop will start a monthlong break Sunday, remodeling and returning in mid-June with more space and room for a weekend buffet.
In an age when other restaurants specialize in tacos or fajitas, Enchiladas Olé is all about old-school, hearty enchiladas with rich, flavorful sauces. It’s open for lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays and dinner Thursdays through Saturdays at 901 N. Sylvania Ave.; 817-984-1360, enchiladasole.com.
(While Olé is away, try the equally charming Mariposa’s Latin Kitchen, 5724 Locke Ave., mariposaslatinkitchen.com.)
A new brunch choice for Mother’s Day and beyond is Vivo 53 Italian, the flashy artisan pizzeria in The Tower downtown. Vivo’s brunch menu launches Sunday, featuring egg entrees, frittatas, cardamom waffles and Vivo brunch smoked-salmon pizzas.
Brunch continues at 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 525 Taylor St., 682-207-8700, vivo53.com.
The Before-Lunch Box
Also new: breakfast at the The Lunch Box.
The timeless Camp Bowie Boulevard lunch cafe now serves breakfast daily, with omelets, egg dishes, buttermilk or wheat pancakes and brioche French toast made with Black Rooster Bakery bread.
The Lunch Box opens daily at 7 a.m. and serves breakfast until 10:30 a.m. weekdays, 2 p.m. weekends; 6333 Camp Bowie Blvd., 817-738-2181, eatthelunchbox.com.
Bud Kennedy’s column appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in DFW.com. 817-390-7538.