Nashville Restaurants and Food
Inside A and H Food
1104 Murfreesboro Pike
Some of the best places to eat are often hidden away in Nashville. That’s certainly the case for restaurant Al-Quds. You probably wouldn’t know it was there if you didn’t stumble into A and H food mart for some fresh pita bread. The Middle Eastern grocery store is in a tiny strip mall, just up from the Mapco on Murfreesboro Pike near Thompson Lane. Inside you’ll find a small restaurant next to the groceries. Al-Quds has several tables and a decent atmosphere for a grocery joint.
You will have to work for your food here. There is no menu, so you have to ask. There is also a significant language barrier. The fellow running the kitchen is Palestinian and quite friendly. He’ll help you figure out what to eat. It pays to point and ask questions. After two wonderful lunches I want to get back and ask him about the stews and soups bubbling away on the stove. I also need to be more adventurous with the meats. They operate a Halal butcher shop and offer what they call on their business card “stuffed sheep”.
The first visit was with the Veggie Eater. We knew from past experience that they made their own falafel at A and H, selling it frozen in bulk. We decided to check out the restaurant and were not disappointed. The fresh falafel mix is given a few stirs and then into the fryer. It comes out crispy on the outside and with a little bit of moistness inside. Served on a fresh pita it’s near perfect. Spanakopita is offered one day. It’s a doughy version, made in house and featuring a great selection of bold spices. That’s what really sets Al-Quds apart from other Middle Eastern joints in town. They’re not afraid to lay on the spices and that makes for some seriously good food.
Another visit brings a beef sandwich. In this case the use of herbs and spices is exceptional. There’s a savory hot sauce and the beef has a nice char. It’s one of my new favorite sandwiches on Murfreesboro Road. Peruse the baked goods display and point to items you want to try. Za’atar is a spice mixture, usually made up of sumac, thyme, marjoram, sesame and oregano. They serve it with olive oil on pita bread for a tasty and eye opening appetizer.
Veggie Eater: The folks here seemed to understand “vegetarian” when steering us to veggie friendly items. The spanakopita is not the Greek version; it’s not greasy or flaky, but served in a doughy bread chock full of fresh spinach highly seasoned with thyme. The falafel is perfectly cooked, as alluded to by the meat eater; crusty exterior with moist, herby interior. If you are looking for a quick lunch and want to avoid the fast food racket, this would be a perfect place to pop in. Infinitely more satisfying than sodium-laden, beef- seasoned French fries served at well known fast food restaurants.
Meat Eater: Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. A and H seems home to many different Arabic nationalities. Perhaps if you’re lucky you’ll find a cab driver that speaks English and can help translate for you. This place is a high quality bargain. We paid $15 with tax, tip and drinks on one visit and I paid $10 on another visit.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Nashville Restaurants and Food