1-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Saturday
TapWerks Ale House & Cafe
121 E. Sheridan
You don’t have to travel far to get a taste of fresh and authentic Mediterranean food.
Tucked away in the Warr Acres Shopping Plaza, this culturally sound spot has been in business since 1997, when owner Parviz Rezaian (pictured) opened it.
The establishment is split in half, with one side being the market, which is where you order food, and the other side being the dining area. The market, like the restaurant’s menu, includes all sorts of traditional Mediterranean cuisine options, and some that aren’t necessarily exclusive to that region. The staff of the establishment is very cordial, and they jumped at the opportunity to discuss their original dishes.
There are a number of choices to start out with, whether you’re wanting appetizers or salads. My guest and I tried the falafel bites ($3.99), hummus ($4.99), Greek salad ($3.99) and tabbouleh ($3.99). The latter two were the first to reach our table.
The freshness of the Greek salad was immediately recognizable, as was the flavor. The fresh vegetables, including mixed greens and cherry tomatoes, tossed with feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette made for an outstanding taste. Greek salad has always been one of my favorite Mediterranean dishes, and it’s always refreshing — and should be commonplace — when a restaurant uses noticeably fresh vegetables.The tabbouleh came out at the same time as the Greek salad, and it was also delightful. Again, the freshness was a great part of the dish, not to mention the delicious citrusy flavor complemented by a moderate amount of parsley. Both of these salad dishes were seasoned well and not overly dressed, allowing for the best combinations of flavor.
Freshness is the name of the game for this restaurant, something Rezaian’s son, Mike, said separates it from other Mediterranean spots.
“Everything is made to order,” he said.
Next came the appetizers. I’ve always been a big hummus fan, and Travel by Taste certainly did nothing to change this. The simple, yet tasteful dish was excellent with the soft pita bread that came with it. Along with our hummus, we received the falafel bites — four large ones to be exact — paired with a tasty yogurt sauce that is made from scratch. The crispy outside and soft inside of the bites allowed for a perfect combination of textures, only improved by the creamy and flavorful sauce.
Rezaian said that the chelo kebab dinner ($9.99) is the most popular dish, and I tried this entrée. The seasoned beef dish was served with saffron rice and grilled tomatoes. The meat was tender, juicy and flavorful; it paired nicely with the rice and tomatoes.My guest decided to go with another meat choice: the grilled chicken ($9.99). This dish was also accompanied by saffron rice, but in addition it had a Turkish salsa that was a mixture of vegetables and herbs, among other things. It was somewhat similar to tabbouleh, and went well with the tender and juicy chicken, providing an explosion of flavor.
Other dishes include gyro or kebab sandwiches ($5.49 each) and somewhat pricier specialty items like the lamb shank and lamb kebab ($12.99 each).
The dining area has a nice ambience, with somewhat dim lighting and Mediterraneanstyle music playing softly. It is surprisingly large, allowing the tables to be spaced well. We didn’t have to wait very long for our food to be served, especially the salads. In fact, the rest of the food came so quickly after the salads that we found ourselves with a tableful of food from which to choose.
It’s far from the fanciest place, but delicious food combined with a good atmosphere helped make our dining experience very positive.
If you’re ever in the mood to travel and taste the fruits of the world, but don’t have that kind of time or money, let Travel by Taste be your guide.
“You can come to the same spot and travel around the world and try different types of food,” Rezaian said.
Oklahoma Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or service when appropriate.
Photo by Mark Hancock