Another update: Al Aqsa on Royvonne Ave SE Ste #103 is now closed-->Their second restaurant on 1326 State St (near Subway), is still open.
Update: I verified with the owner today (thanks for the tip Anon 2!) that they will indeed be opening a second restaurant near the corner of 13th and State Street (between the Cue Ball and Subway). Technically, that will be the first location, since the owner says it was found first, and that the location at Royvonne was picked up by chance and was ready to open first. The location at 13th and State will be a larger dining room and a soft opening is set for about 2-3 weeks from now. Also, on a more important note, I just learned that a "shawarma" is the same thing as a "gryo" with the different generally being Arab vs. Greek. Didn't know that before today. And if you ask for the chicken to be spicy, they'll oblige.
Al-Aqsa at has only been open for a couple of weeks and I've found myself eating there twice already. Remember folks, this is a brand new restaurant, so I'm not going to critique it too much. Instead, I'm going to tell you how awesome the lamb gyros are. Actually no, I'm not going to do that either - just go get one for yourself. It's only $5.
The people are very friendly and the hummus and baba ghanoush are very good. And did I mention the gryos are excellent? I did? Well it bares repeating.
Prices are reasonable, with a $4.99 gyro of beef, chicken, or lamb (which is fantastic by the way), and $5.99/lb charge for a container filled up at the "salad bar" with whatever you wish. Also on the menu is shawarma, which I haven't had yet but plan to try on my next visit, and the sheesh kabob, which is on my list for the time after that.
My most recent visit earned me a sample cup of Turkish coffee after lunch which was one of very few cups of Turkish coffee I've ever had the pleasure of drinking.
So after just two trips to Al-Aqsa, I've found that I've already decided it's going to be one of my staple lunch spots during work. I just can't pass up a high-quality 5-dollar lunch. For the folks I work with, this means if you're going there for lunch, and you're wondering if you should get me something, the answer is "YES - LAMB GYRO."
If you plan on taking a trip to Al-Aqsa in the near future, remember, give them a chance - they're new. If you have criticism, ask the owner/manager if they are interested in hearing any feedback, or if they have an email address to which you can send it.
1130 Royvonne Ave SE Ste #103
Salem, OR 97302