Al-Aqsa Fine Mediterranean Cuisine (Just Opened!)

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.

Al-Aqsa
1130 Royvonne Ave SE Ste #103
Salem, OR 97302



Vegan's Nightmare
twitter.com/VegansNightmare

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where is it?

Anonymous said...

I was there on Tuesday 7/5 and was quite pleased with my beef gyro (they had ran out of lamb, sadly). I wasn't hungry enough to try any of the salad bar items, but they looked quite tasty. The proprietor also told me they are opening a second location in a few weeks at 14th and State ST, which will be bigger and more conducive to eating in! I'm so excited since this is much closer to me also!

They're located at 1130 Royvonne Ave SE #103
Salem, OR 97302

and they're open from 10:30am to 8:30 pm

KandN said...

That first photo looks like you were giving your camera a bite :>) and it also looks pretty danged delicious.
I like the link to Google Maps you added to their name. Great idea!

Vegan's Nightmare said...

Sorry about the sly link to their address. I updated the post and added it at the bottom.

gstatty said...

I have a love for Middle Eastern food that knows no bounds. Plus this is close enough to work for me to stop by for a quick lunch when I don't pack my own. I love shawarma, but every place prepares it slightly differently. Its always chicken and that wonderful sauce on top with yellow rice, but there is always a slight variation. It is really hard to find a place that does it right. I am going to give this place a try, especially since its very hard to screw up tabbouleh so thats always a good fallback. If this place is worthwhile I'm going to be 10 kinds of happy.

Anonymous said...

I know where I'm stopping very soon! That gyro looks so good!!

sheepdog-mom

Vegan's Nightmare said...

Just updated the post with additional info on the new location.

Yes, I ate there again today. Don't judge me.

'laina said...

State and 14th?? Sweet, I'm excited to have an interesting restaurant within walking distance of my house. WOM is usually closed by the time I get home, and I never think about that diner place by the old Roxxy's, I also want to try that new Taj Mahal.

gstatty said...

I don't know the chicken/lamb/beef shawarma served with rice and the tahini sauce is a variation on the classic gyro or pita style origination, but whenever I would go to this Lebanese place that used to be in Corvallis called Oasis, they would serve it over yellow rice and serve it with pita bread on the side. Another great place up in Portland (my favorite since the closing of Oasis) is Habibi and they also serve it over rice. When I get the chance to get myself over to Al-Aqsa to try out their great looking food, I'll have to ask if serving the meat over rice is some sort of regional variation on the classic pita wrap sandwich style. Man, all this talk about Middle Eastern cuisine is making my mouth water a little.

Anonymous said...

Had another great meal at Al-Aqsa today.

If you get a chance, give this place a try. I think that you will really like the food.

Rebekah said...

Yummy. This just made me so hungry. I usually enjoy the shawarma from the Downtown Market and Deli, but I'm gonna have to get in my car and go find this place. LOVE Middle Eastern cuisine!

KandN said...

Yesterday, I drove past what will soon be Al-Aqsa's second location on State St., just east a few doors from Sassy Onion. Looks like they've made a lot of progress in the past month. Chairs and tables were visible from the street.

Anonymous said...

Ate there tonight. It was excellent, the meat pies and spinach pies are amazing and only $.99 each, brought home 5 extras for tomorrow.

Lisa Anne said...

this place is awesome! I just went and tried the Falafel Sandwich and everything about it was delicious. There are so many yummy veggies, chopped up and put over the large falafel balls, and the pita is buttery and crunchy and soft. Yum! I would recommend this place to anyone who loves the idea of Pita Pit but hates the service. And the mint lemonade was only 99 cents and super yummy as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's great! Between Sassy Onion, Taj Majal, and this restaurant (which looks delicious), it's almost like having a second "restaurant row" in Salem! Thank you for sharing. I had not heard of the first location of this restaurant and I LOVE schwarma.

Mike Herron said...

I finally got over to Downtown Grocery & Deli and tried their shawarma yesterday. It was okay, but I'm not a big fan of the fluffy pita that they use. It reminds me of a Boboli. While living in the Bay Area I got hooked on shawarma and falafel, but the style of pita most of the restaurants use is much different than the style restaurants appear to favor in Oregon, or at least Salem. The pita was closer to the consistency and thickness of a tortilla, but not as sweet; almost like an undercooked saltine cracker. If anyone knows of a restaurant using that style of pita, I'd love to know where it is.

Chuck Bradley said...

Stopped by the new State ST location today and found it locked, dark and with every appearance of a work in progress. I called the Royvonne ST store and was told State ST will not be open for “a few weeks”. They had anticipated opening this week but had “run into some difficulties.”

KandN said...

I'm so glad you passed that on, Chuck!
Their coupon will have many folks trying that door.

Anonymous said...

state st still not open looks like

Zany Zoitsa said...

Their phone now says it's not taking incoming calls. I love this place and was just checking hours before arranging to meet a friend later in week. I don't live out that way. Anyone know what's up? State st still isn't open, either. I hope they can survive for a lot longest.

Anonymous said...

On the spur of the moment, mMy husband and I went to the Royvonne Al-Aqsa location yesterday (after buying bread at Trivet deli in the same little shopping strip). The young man who did all the preparation and serving was helpful and friendly, and the food was quite good too. After we had finished the dishes we ordered,he offered us samples of the baklava, which his mother makes with pistachios, and it was the best baklava I have ever eaten!

Stephanie said...

Tried to go to the State street location, but it still isn't open. When will it be opening?

KandN said...

Thanks for the reminder to call, Stephanie.
Seems like too much time has passed--cash/rent wise, but maybe we'll get a pleasant surprise.

Chuck Bradley said...

Yes. I'd been told "a few weeks" and "a couple of weeks" literally for months. I finally gave up around the first of the year. If and when it opens, I'll have to hear it from someone else. I'm tired of being shined on!

Julieju said...

State st is open.

Anonymous said...

Couple of Qs about Al Aqsa: anyone been there for dinner recently? Which location is best for first-timers who adore lamb?
DDD