There’s nothing like a good gyro or kabob platter. As a kid growing up in Tacoma, I ate these foods frequently with my family, and we would often drive long distances just to find good Mediterranean food. I’ve since moved to Seattle, and on a recent visit to Mint & Olives in Lower Queen Anne, I was pleased to find Mediterranean food that reminds me of some of the places my family loved during my childhood.
Mint & Olives opened in October, so it’s still as fresh as its food. Owner Abrahim Kameel, 48, is from Palestine and has been in Seattle for 27 years. The restaurant is a family business, with Kameel’s nephew and cousin also working with him.
A friend and I visited Mint & Olive late in the afternoon on a Sunday Seahawks game day, so we basically had the restaurant to ourselves. Kameel said it’s typical for Sundays to be slow. For us, it was a great time to be there with no long wait or rush.
We started with Greek fries ($4.95), which came to us piping hot, crispy and smothered with tangy yogurt sauce and crumbly feta. In the words of my friend, these fries “slap.” (In youth lingo, that means they are VERY good.)
I love a good hummus or baba ganoush with pita, so I knew I wanted to try Mint & Olives’ take. We went for the baba ganoush ($7.95) because my friend had never had it. This version turned out to be a good introduction to the appetizer for him. Delightfully fresh, the cool, mashed eggplant swimming in a bit of olive oil paired nicely with the warm, soft pita that came with it. The baba ganoush portion was a bit smaller than I expected, but redeemingly, plenty of the two accompanying medium-sized pitas was left over to use for picking up meat or soaking up sauces from other dishes.
The main event for me was the mixed kabob plate ($19.95). I’m half Pakistani, and kabobs are very common in Pakistani cuisine, so I grew up eating them — which probably accounts for my high standards for the food. To me, a good kabob is well seasoned, lightly charred and juicy. I can happily say the kabobs at Mint & Olives met my criteria. The plate came with chicken, lamb and beef kabobs. Each one was juicy and flavorful. The chicken had a perfect amount of char without being dry, the beef wasn’t tough, and while I thought the lamb could have been a little crispier, it was right up there in that smoky, grilled flavor with the others.
Entree platters are served with white or yellow rice and come with salads. Normally, side salads are nothing special, but I was impressed with how fresh the vegetables tasted and the crispiness of the lettuce. I was also kind of obsessed with the dressing. It was a light vinaigrette that reminded me of the salad dressing at Olive Garden — and I mean that as a compliment.
We also, of course, had to make sure the gyros checked out. I love a good vegetarian option, so we ordered a falafel gyro ($8.95.) I believe the mark of a good gyro is that it’s a mess to eat; if I’m not spilling filling everywhere and getting sauce on my face every time I take a bite, something is missing. The gyro at Mint & Olives definitely passed this test. It was chock-full of crispy falafel, lettuce, pickles, red cabbage, pickled red onions and hummus. We were so full at this point we couldn’t finish it, but I so would have if I had more room.
Kameel said he would love to expand Mint & Olives with more locations. For now, the trip to Lower Queen Anne is well worth it for your Mediterranean food fix.
Mint & Olives: Monday-Thursday 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; 8 W. Mercer St., Seattle; 206-294-3974, mintandolives.com.