Al Amir

Date: December 21, 2007
Times Visited: 1

Stumptown Vegans could rank their favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Portland in terms of falafel, hummus, baba ganouj and pita bread. Piping hot, steaming, fluffy pita when you’re hungry is our reason to go to Hoda’s and Arabian Breeze. The promise of crispy falafel in 5 minutes or less brings us to Hush Hush. The hummus at Nicholas’, and the baba ganouj at Ya Hala are the best ones we’ve had in town. So where does Al Amir fit in?

The atmosphere was nice and quiet with a few tables up front, and only a trio of tables being used in the main dining room in the back. It was a cold, rainy day and the basket of steaming pita almost seemed to good to be true. And it was. Underneath the wax paper was pita that was certainly not made on premises, and certainly not made that day, and probably only knew life inside plastic. It was pita you can buy at the store, even the regular grocery store, and what’s the fun of that? It was chewy, and was a vehicle for hummus in hunger, but that’s stating the obvious.

One Stumptown Vegan ordered the veggie kabob with hummus (available with hummus or a side of rice, $8), which was literally one kabob of grilled onion, pepper, cauliflower and tomato, garnished with a lot of chopped parsley. The tomato had turned to mush, and made us wonder how it made it from the grill to plate. The red pepper was a nice blend of sweet and grilled, and we’ve yet to go wrong with grilled cauliflower. The large portion of hummus was positively creamy and fluffy, but nothing to go back for. It was not a meal to remember.

The falafel was as dry as the pita it was wrapped in. There wasn’t much of anything to bring the flavor out. The pita was dry, the falafel may have been good but chewing required concentration on not choking on dry food, so it was unforgettable. The best thing about the dish was the way we Stumptown Vegans share. Without added a dollop of hummus to every bite, it wouldn’t have even worked out. For $5 one would be able to get a fresher tasting falafel at a cart, even going to Dreamer’s would have given me some fries with my meal.

It’s an okay place to go for Lebanese vegan options when downtown with omnivores, but there’s better, like Habibi and our favorite, Hush Hush.

Veggie Kabob and hummus

Al Amir - Bobs

Falafel wrap

Al Amir - Falafel

Rating: 2 out of 5
Address: 223 SW Stark St Portland, OR 97204
Lunch Hours: Monday – Friday 11:00am – 2:30pm
Dinner Hours: Monday – Thursday 4:30pm – 9:00pm
Friday – Saturday 4:30pm – 12:00am
Sunday 4:30pm – 9:00pm


13 responses to “Al Amir

  1. I’ve got to second Karam — they offer fresh hot whole wheat and white pitas, they have a great, unusual menu with lots of vegan options, and they have alcohol. They even have Lebanese breakfast (though I don’t remember how vegan that is). I’d rank it with Ya Hala as the best Lebanese/Levantine in town.

  2. Yes and Karam is just down the street!!! I went there with some co-workers about two months ago. I went to Al Amir (it’s the one with the dark dining room and rose’s on the table, right?) and thought the food was alright but that it seemed like a front for something more underground.

  3. I think it was Al Amir I went to several years ago. I got a vegetable stew and a side of hummus, which I thought was good. Also been to Hush Hush, Halibi, and Nicolas, which was excellent. If your in Vancouver, WA try Touch of Athens at the Hidden House, which has the best hummus I’ve tasted!

  4. Karam and Arabian Breeze (and occasionally Nicholas for the cheap-but-hungry meal) are my regular rotation.

    Any recommendations for best cart falafel? Or should I just head over to Hush Hush (haven’t been yet. . .)?

  5. Ian – Hush, Hush for sure. There’s a good cart I enjoy on SW Second, south of Oak, but I am still trying to figure out if it is dairy-free. The woman there had never been asked before and had me write it down and give a description.

  6. Is that the new one, next to the wonderful Thai Basil? I haven’t tried it yet, either. . .

    Speaking of Thai Basil, you should do a vegan-specific review–if you let them know you’re vegan, they’re very accommodating–down to soy milk in the Thai iced tea. And they’re just lovely, sweet people, and their food is a nice clean change of pace from the sometimes heavy-but-good of vegan Thai in Portland. Check out the guest review I was allowed to write for Cuisine Bonne Femme’s Portland Food Carts website.

  7. Ok I went to Hush Hush for the first time yesterday and wasn’t impressed. I ordered the Falafel sandwich. I have heard so many people rave about it. What did I miss?

    Also Jerusalem Cafe in Vancouver is another good one.

  8. Thanks for the tip on Thai Basil, Ian~ We’re always on the lookout for actual vegan-friendly Thai, especially if it’s cheap!

    VeganFabulous – Sorry to hear it! Perhaps it was a bad day for them, but maybe you’re looking for different qualities in falafel than we are. Did they make it fresh in less than a couple minutes?

  9. They definitely made it fast but I don’t know if it was fresh (probably was since that is what they typically do). I guess I just thought the Falafel was a little dry and not terribly flavorful. It wasn’t just me either, my friend felt the same way. I am going to assume it was a bad day b/c so many others like it…

  10. I went back to Hush Hush yesterday for a quick lunch, and the deliciousness was confirmed – and I got to try their homemade hot sauce. Fantastic.

    Sorry, VeganFabulous! Maybe another time..

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