Get ready for some generous helpings of Greek salad, pita bread, rice and hummus—it’s About Taste Test: Mediterranean Showdown.

The real winner in this taste test is Stark County because it’s home to so many delicious choices in this category.

We didn’t try every Mediterranean restaurant (our stomachs couldn’t handle it!), but we did pick three: Papa Gyros, Desert Inn and Sahara Grille.

To keep it fair, we decided to stick to similar menu choices at each location: a platter with a sampling of the restaurant’s salad, rice and meat and an order of hummus and pita bread.

We didn’t have a bad or even so-so meal—everything was good everywhere, and I’d recommend each place.

OUR ORDERS:

Sahara Grille
• Two signature tours, each served with seasoned rice, Grecian salad, Sahara fries and chicken shawarma ($15)
• Lamb kebob ($17)
• Hummus ($6)

Papa Gyros
• Olympian platter ($12.89): Gyro meat, steak skewer, tzatziki sauce, Greek salad, pita bread, rice
• Mixed grill souvlaki ($13.89): Lamb and chicken skewers, tzatziki sauce, Greek salad, pita bread, rice
• Hummus and pita bread ($4.89)

Desert Inn
• King and queen filet ($54.96), served family style with Grecian salad, garlic toast, broasted potatoes and Syrian rice
• Hummus and pita ($5.50)

FAVORITES BY FOOD:

PAPA GYROS: MEAT + BREAD

I loved this soft, doughy pita bread that came both with the hummus and with the platters. It’s thicker than the other offerings and therefore better for dipping, in my opinion. Plus, it has a little more flavor to it than some of its tougher, chewier counterparts.

The restaurant’s gyro meat is well-seasoned and tender and pairs well with the refreshing tzatziki sauce. The portion I received was generous.

DESERT INN: SALAD

I would eat this salad every day. It was the best of the three Greek salad varieties we tried, with huge chunks of fresh feta and oil-based house dressing over crispy pieces of lettuce.

SAHARA GRILLE: RICE + HUMMUS

We had several good rice options, but Sahara’s was the winner for me, with its sprinkling of ground beef and yummy
seasoning.

This hummus is creamy and smooth and basically just perfect. We got so much at the restaurant that I saved some to share with my mom (a true hummus connoisseur), and she said it’s some of the best she’s had ever, noting the hints of lemon and parsley she could taste.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:

PAPA GYROS: BEST VALUE

The food is reasonably priced, especially considering the portion sizes, and equally as good as the other restaurants. The only thing not included with the lunches we tried (as compared to the other restaurants) was potato, and honestly, I didn’t miss it at all. You’re also getting the same menu at lunch and dinner.

DESERT INN: BEST DATE SPOT

This is the place to splurge—besides filet, the menu includes a rack of lamb, lobster tail, reef and beef and flaming steak Diane. All entrees are served family style, meaning you and your date serve one another salad, rice and potatoes from a tray in the middle of your table.

SAHARA GRILLE: BEST WHEN STARVING

We got so much food that it took me three days to get through the leftovers. I had a mountain of chicken shawarma on top of seasoned rice with beef and almonds, a big serving of deliciously seasoned potato wedges, a nice side salad and a vat of hummus and pita bread to go with it.

DO THE TASTE TEST YOURSELF


Sahara Grille
4794 Dressler Rd. NW, Canton
• Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday
• 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
saharagrille.com


Papa Gyros
Three Stark County locations:
320 W State St., Alliance
4760 Everhard Rd. NW, Canton
2045 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton
• Open 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday
papagyros.com

Desert Inn
204 12th St. NW, Canton
• Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday
• 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday
• 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
desertinncanton.com

About The Author

Alison Matas writes for The Repository, covering Canton City Hall. She grew up in Kent and has worked for newspapers in New York, Missouri, West Virginia and Maryland—and she’s happy to call Stark County her new home. When she’s not writing, she’s usually rehearsing for an upcoming musical or choir concert, going for a run or attempting to cook.

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