The word “Aladdin” conjures up the character in the folk tale of Middle Eastern origin found in in The Arabian Nights. The addition of “Mediterranean” creates an irresistible picture of mystical, magical food originating from Greece, Spain, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Even though we’re located in the Deep South, authentic Mediterranean cuisine is readily available, thanks to Aladdin Mediterranean Grill on Lakeland Drive in Jackson.
Situated in the historic Fondren Business District, Aladdin is a favorite spot to enjoy lamb dishes, falafel, baklava, and many other Mediterranean specialties. The exterior may be unassuming, but once diners enter the cozy space filled with mosaics, tapestries, plush seating, and bold colors, they’re immediately transported to Morocco…or possibly the Greek Isles…or maybe Spain. Once the food arrives, aesthetics is forgotten and an immediate journey begins to another place and time far away with delicious, authentic, and perfectly-prepared cuisine.
And, by the way, don’t worry if you haven’t mastered the pronunciation of words on the menu like shawarma and taboul. Just remember these two words to get your meat started: “Hummus, please.” I promise, you won’t regret it.
The measure of an authentic Mediterranean restaurant is the freshness of the offerings and the balance of seasonings in dishes that recapture the best of a cuisine known for hearty, flavorful dishes. Aladdin offers all that and more, along with a varied menu that contains traditional Mediterranean items along with American specialties with an ethnic touch.
To get your Mediterranean food odyssey going, start with the appetizers. As you can tell, I’m going to recommend a serving of hummus dip ($3.95). It’s fresh, creamy, and delightfully tangy. Others worth trying (all in $4.50 range) are baba ganul, musabaha, qudsia, Lebna, and fried kibby. Others with more recognizable names are basmati rice with saffron ($2.50), pickles and olive ($2.50), spinach pie ($4), fried cheese ($5.95), and even American fries ($2.50).
Salads start at $2.50 for the regular house version and extend to the $8 range for delicacies like the Greek, Tzeki, Arabic, chicken or beef shawarma, tabouli, and shrimp. Topped with creamy feta cheese, Greek, or other homemade dressings, Aladdin’s salads are a complete meal that are sure to satisfy.
Marinated, grilled, and roasted meat is prevalent in Mediterranean food, which may explain its presence on Aladdin’s menu. A variety of sandwiches and entrees are filled with everything from chicken, lamb and beef are tender, delicious, and topped with homemade dressing or sauce.
Favorite sandwiches include the traditional gyro ($4.99) filled with thinly sliced lamb and beef and topped with traditional tzatziki sauce; beef or chicken shawarma ($6 range), and American versions of a burger, cheeseburger, or Philly steak sandwich ($5 range).
Entrees are served with salad, hummus, rice, and pita bread and include the combination plate of Aladdin’s specialties ($12.99), beef, lula, lamb, or beef kabab ($12 range), lamb chops or shank ($16 range), fried kibby ($10.99), gyra plate ($11.69), hummus with lamb ($10.69), shrimp or tilapia plate ($12 range), and meat grape leaves plate ($9.69).
The perfect Mediterranean meal simply cannot end without the addition of a succulent homemade dessert. Aladdin’s lineup doesn’t disappoint, offering delicious baklava, Burma, bird nest, and tiramisu, all in the $2 to $4 range.
Aladdin Mediterranean Grill is located at 730 Lakeland Drive in Jackson. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Call 601-366-6033 for more information.