In fifteen years, Sultan's Market has gone from a convenience store selling Polish sausage to a Middle Eastern eatery with arguably the finest falafel this side of the Fertile Crescent. The vegetarian/vegan selections make it a Mecca for the granola crowd, but you can expect to see pilgrims of every persuasion who just appreciate good ghanooj. The patio seating's scarce, so head inside, where you'll find plenty of booths with low-slung, beaded fixtures, Arabic arches and golden columns. Wafting Eastern-tinged ambient or Lebanese ditties easily put you in the right mind for some meat pie.
Orders are placed at the counter deli-style, but be on your toes; the cooks are quick and most customers already know what they came for. True, the falafel's legendary, but for this guy hummus is the real litmus test and Sultan's doesn't disappoint. Its perfect balance of bitter and tang makes the shawerma, coating and complementing the savory chunks of char-grilled chicken. The tender tilapia is top-notch, dressed with fresh tabboule and laid on a bed of addictive curry rice. If green's your thing, the salad bar offers unusual options like fried plantains, roasted brussel sprouts and, yes, even pickled turnips.
The price-to-portion ratio at Sultan's is staggering. Just try to spend more than ten bucks. The most expensive item, kefta kabob, will cost you $7, while starters, soups and sandwiches run a measly $2-$5. Owners Shadi and May Ramli haven't killed the corner store completely. They still shelve staples like falafel mix, tahini, Basmati rice and Turkish olive oil. The authentic hookahs on the tables are for sale, not smoking, and for $75 you're free to take your sheesha home. Don't forget to BYOB.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Foreman