Saturday, May 26, 2012

Outdoor cafes and restaurants in Orland Park

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Outdoor cafes and restaurants in Orland Park

I love Memorial Day Weekend for a lot of reasons including I get to relax and really enjoy the community. in Orland Park. And one of the real beauties of Orland Park in the summer are the many outdoor patios that several restaurants and cafes have here.

So I stopped by Shami Restaurant in the old Borders Book Store Plaza -- I miss Borders -- and sat out on the patio to enjoy some good Middle Eastern food, the great weather and the people who were buzzing about doing their shopping or just driving through.

Shami is one of the few Middle Eastern restaurants in the area, even though there are a lot of Arab Americans living here. Orland has the beautiful Mosque, and although the majority of Arabs here are Christian there is no Arab Church in Orland Park. That's too bad. Maybe it's because they can go to any church and worship whereas Muslims don't really have that many choices.

So Shami and a few other Arab bakeries including my favorite, Laila's Grape Vine on John Humprhey Drive in the Horton Plaza, really add some spice to the food options among the many great restaurant choices that are out here.

I ordered a small hummus plate, Jerusalem salad (diced tomatoes, cucumbers with tahini -- sesame seed -- dressing), a small hummus (crushed garbanzo beans with Tahini) and the Royal Plate which seemed to be a large plate of mixed chicken, lamb, ground beef with parsely (kifta kabob) and basmati (Persian) rice. And several cans of Diet Coke and enough bread to eat the hummus and feed some of the Sparrows brave enough to come near the tables and stare.

A lot of American soldiers returning from service in the Middle East have become patrons of these Arab restaurants. They went to Iraq to fight and came back loving the hummus, falafel, tahini, salads, kibbis and kabobs. Even the ones who went to Afghanistan, which isn't Arab or Middle Eastern, of course, but does share some of the same cultural foods.

The food was great but the weather was even better. And it was enjoyable, eating the hummus with cuts from the Syrian Pita Bread. One thing you learn when you serve in Iraq or visit a Middle Eastern country is that you can put the tahini-based salads on the rice to make it taste even better. That Tahini is great. (If you like Middle Eastern foods, go to my facebook page and check out one of the groups I belong to called Mediterranean Foods. You'll meet a lot more people who share their food recipes or experiences in Middle Eastern foods.)


Jerusalem, Tahini Salad

Royal Plate Chicken kabob, lamb kabob and kifta kabob

Shami is one of several restaurants in Orland Park worth checking out. And sitting out on the patio to enjoy the food makes the whole experience in Orland Park even more enjoyable.


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