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Originally published Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM

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Dining Deal: Shawarma King offers Mediterranean fare fit for royalty

Shawarma King is a tasty Mediterranean eatery on the Ave serving up a flavorful roasted-meat wrap with a secret blend of spices.

Seattle Times theater critic

Shawarma King

Mediterranean

5004 University Way N.E., Seattle

206-529-3223 or www.shawarmakingus.com

Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays, Sundays; 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Thursdays-Saturdays.

Etc: Major credit-cards accepted, street parking, no alcohol, wheelchair-accessible.

Prices: $

In the many budget eateries on University Way, those serving Middle Eastern delights are as numerous as pho or burger palaces.

But not all such places are created alike or equal. And the Ave got a new, cheap and very tasty option when Shawarma King opened a few months ago.

Shawarma is the Egyptian delicacy of spiced meats, roasted on large cones. And at this friendly, homey spot, the flavorful sandwiches made with aromatic slices of lamb, beef and chicken are available for eating in, pickup and local delivery.

The menu: Shawarma, falafel (fried chickpea balls), shish kebab and gyros (pressed meats) served as sandwiches, or with salad or sides. There's a hearty list of sides — ultra-creamy hummus, chopped green salad, savory lentil soup, Egyptian foul (fava beans with spices and tahini), baba ganouj (broiled eggplant dip).

The food is delicious, and the price right: Most sandwiches are $5.99, full "plates" of the meats with rice, pita, hummus or just salad are $5.99-$7.49. Sides range from 99 cents (a single stuffed grape leaf) to $4.99 (a good dollop of hummus).

What to write home about: Nearly everything is good here, but Shawarma is indeed king. The sandwich ($5.99) alone is a meal: Generous slices of meat (or veggie patty) are piled into a jumbo flour wrap, drizzled with mild garlic sauce and tahini, and dressed with onion, tomato and pickled vegetable. This is a two-fisted sandwich, and the savory Egyptian spicing is unique and delicate. (Our waiter said the exact ingredients are "a trade secret.")

Also reasonable are family-dining trays that easily serve two hungry people. We happily scarfed up the mix-grill tray ($14.99) — a large plate of beef, lamb, chicken and kofta (ground beef) kebabs, served with the excellent hummus, salad and/or rice, pickled veggies, tahini sauce and warm pita bread. A feast! (One quibble: On two occasions the lamb kebabs were scorched and dry).

The setting: This is a small, inviting cafe colorfully decorated with Egyptian tapestries and art. There's limited table and counter seating.

Summing Up: Our very filling order of a cup of lentil soup, a mix-grill tray, two drinks, an extra side of hummus and an order of basbousa, a yummy Egyptian cake topped with buttery honey-almond syrup, came to $29.54 (before tax and tip).

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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