No gyros allowed 

Sorry, you delicious melange of beef and lamb, shaved thin and crisped on a spit. Some days, I want to expand my options.

I’m obsessed with doing so at Nunu’s Mediterranean Cafe & Market, 3131 W. Memorial Road.

Nunu’s is the rare Mediterranean spot in Oklahoma City that does not serve a gyro. But if that’s what’s keeping you away, you’re missing out.

Yes, you can find houmos and baba ghanouj elsewhere (though probably spelled differently), but what about meat-stuffed grape leaves ($4.99 for four)? With a mildly bitter snap to the leaf and a savory filling, these little treats are an excellent
appetizer. I got mine on the maza platter ($10.99), which is made for
people like me who have to try everything.

The
baked kibbe ($4.99 for two) is like a tiny meatloaf cut into triangles.
Tender and gently spiced, they fall apart as you bite into them,
releasing a blend of beef, wheat and onion that is thoroughly different
and immediately comforting. Try not to eat a thousand of these. Just try.

The
lentil soup ($3.50 for a cup, $4.50 for a bowl) is simple and filling.
I’d probably love this best on a cold night. Pair it with the fatoosh
salad ($7.99 for a whole, $4.50 as a side salad), which mixes lettuce,
tomatoes and cucumbers with green onions and Zahtar spice. Nestled in
the salad are pita chips, soaking up the dressing until they become the
most flavorful croutons the world has ever known.

Other croutons cower weakly in their boxes. Butter? Garlic? What hope do they have against Zahtar?

The
tabouli ($4.50) is chock-ablock full of parsley. It’s a very green
tabouli, and I loved every bite of it. The cracked wheat gives it heft,
but the flavor of the parsley and the lemon and olive oil is delightful.

Not
all falafels are created equal, but I’ll take Nunu’s version ($6.75)
any day of the week. Stuffed inside a pita, these lightly fried veggie
patties are tender and flavorful, especially soaked in tahini. Eat this
sandwich quickly, though, as the sauce tends to melt the pita after too
long. It can become a mess, but a delicious one.

But here’s why I went to Nunu’s:

The
hashwa ($10.25). It’s the ultimate comfort food. Ground beef, rice and
seasonings cooked in clarified butter and ... I can’t tell if my heart
is fluttering because I’m going to die or because I want more hashwa.

The whole thing is topped with toasted slivered almonds, and the result is mouthwatering.

But
if you’d like to try a few things, then the sampler plate ($11.99) is
for you. It has hashwa and cabbage rolls and beef kafta (think elongated
meatballs) and chicken kabob. It’s a feast worth sharing — or
alienating your friends and family when you refuse to share.

On
the other side is the veggie sampler plate ($10.99), which I quite
enjoyed. But the real star of that show is the lentil and rice pilaf
($9.99). Certainly not low-carb, but absolutely delicious, the lentil
and rice is topped with browned onions for a sweet, filling and utterly
satisfying meal.

The
only thing at Nunu’s I wouldn’t get again is probably the po’boy
sandwich ($6.99), which isn’t really a knock on the sandwich. It’s just
that ham, salami, cheese and pickles in a bun can hardly stand up to the
unstoppable, hunger-killing machine of hashwa, falafel, lentils and
rice.

Oh, gyros ... I
will always love you. But just as the California roll is beginner’s
sushi, the gyro is kind of beginner’s Mediterranean food. And Nunu’s is
teaching a master’s class on delicious fare.

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