Lunch Quickie: Fresh, Vibrant Middle Eastern Food at Aleph Eatery

If you like places like Nuba and Jamjar, you’ll love Aleph. We did. You won’t even care that it’s quietly vegetarian.

Aleph is on the same block as Bistro Wagon Rouge, The Pie Shoppe, and TRANS.AM. Within walking distance is MSG-free Vietnamese & craft beer restaurant DUNDAS Eat + Drink and Parallel 49 Brewing Company.

This part of Powell St. is slowly getting great eats. It’s not just breweries/distilleries anymore (eg. Doans, Powell Brewery, Odd Society, and Parallel 49 nearby).

Related note: anyone remember the too-early-for-its-time Kessel & March? It closed down in 2017 and the chef moved to ARC Restaurant in the Fairmont Waterfront.

This is the dome-like saj oven where all the warm, magical saj breads come from. They used to use a similar oven at Jamjar on Commercial before they switched to bagged pita. They also use a saj oven at Saj & Co. on Davie St. but there’s an important difference — the Saj & Co. breads are stiff and dry like Ryvita crispbreads. Here at Aleph, the breads are wonderfully warm, tender, and moist.

Note: they’re closed between lunch and dinner.

A welcome message from the owners.

The full menu is available online.

Embracing similarities.

Two Strange Fellows beers available — both great choices. If I wasn’t driving, I’d hit that Guardian White IPA. I think the hoppy witbier flavours would go great with all the mezze.

I love that they have a philosophy and an identity.

The classic mezze are available here. Hummus, muhammara, baba ganouj, and labneh.

Lentil soup! We love a good lentil soup.

Bigger plates and wraps. All meat-free.

Wicca’s Cardamom Tea ($2.50). She likes to let her teas brew for a LONG time.

A friend’s Arabic Coffee ($4)…

…served with a date on the side.

Silk Road ($13) with hummus, baba ganouj, labneh, zaatar, honey, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, a slice of pickled beet, olive oil, and parsley. While the hummus isn’t ethereally smooth like Jamjar’s, I loved the flavour of Aleph’s hummus all the same. The baba ganouj and labneh hit all the right buttons too. This entire plate rocks. Would order again and again.

The Silk Road mezze plate comes with a chimichurri saj bread. All saj are served folded in a napkin to keep them warm and moist.

Excellent saj. Better than I ever remember Jamjar’s saj being. Soft, warm, chewy yet tender…

The chimichurri slathered on the inside adds an herby and slightly acidic kick. So very tasty. Automatically inducted into my local flatbread hall of fame, which includes the lavash at Anatolia’s Gate and the pita bread from Superbaba food truck. I had to order another saj — a plain one:

Regular Saj Bread ($2). If Superbaba’s puffy grilled pita is a cozy warm comforter that you’d hibernate in, Aleph’s saj is a rockin’ pashmina you’d wear on the street while taking secret nibbles from the lining.

Halloumi Grilled Cheese Sandwich with tomato soup ($15). Halloumi doesn’t melt but they got it warm and flexible here and it tastes great. Magic combo with the soup. My friend says he enjoyed the soup but I ordered a lentil soup for myself:

Lentil Soup ($7 for small, pictured – $10 for large). The crispy wafers are zaatar croutons, probably made from saj bread. Great to have that textural contrast. Soup was gently balanced, comforting, and satisfying.

Shakshuka ($15 for two eggs) with spiced tomato and red pepper sauce. Comes with regular saj. One of the better shakshukas I’ve had. Yolks were a bit firmer than runny, but flavourwise no complaints.

We all came away with a feeling of healthy satisfaction. The flavours here are fresh, light, and vibrant. All flatbread fiends should check this place out.

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