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Pickle in the middle

By Dr. Ink

It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of the underplayed happy hour at Micho’z Fresh Lebanese Grill, a favorite in my books for lentil soup, meat pies, and most of all, the shawarma. As a casual family-owned eatery, the booze selection is a footnote, containing only a limited selection of wine and bottled beer. Hence, I came knocking mainly for the food steals.

Micho'z beer and foodweb

Lebanese beer and a chicken shawarma wrap at Micho’z Fresh Lebanese Grill (Photo by Dr. Ink)

Four hours every weekday, the gyro, falafel and chicken shawarma wraps drop down by a few bucks to $4.90 apiece. They’re about eight inches long and constructed with thin, sturdy flat bread made from scratch and cooked on a sajj oven.

Domestic beer during happy hour sells for $1.99 — basically your Bud Light. Imports such as Negro Modelo, Heineken and Lebanese Almaza Pilsner cost $2.99 each.

When I inquired about the wine selection, the guy running the front of the house pointed gruffly to a high open shelf, unwilling to name any of them. He wasn’t forthcoming about the happy hour deals either until I asked. Though fast to deliver my food and drink order to the table on this very slow afternoon, his ability to promote anything in the house was sorely lacking.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 8.24.51 AMAfter strutting over to the wine ledge, I could only spot a couple of bulk varietals under the Chilean “120” label, plus a few Old World-style Lebanese options from Ksara, one of which I tried during a dinner visit and didn’t like.

So a cold Almaza it was while snacking initially on complimentary carrot sticks spritzed with lemon juice. The beer is gently carbonated with elusive notes of grain and light bitterness. Consumed with Middle Eastern food, it’s quite enjoyable.

My chicken shawarma wrap flew out of the kitchen within minutes, half of it swaddled in white paper for easy handling. Packed densely with marinated breast meat, lettuce and tomatoes — and dripping with addictive garlic sauce — the long, skinny pickle tucked inside provides both a desirable texture and discrete, tangy flavor. For such a minor ingredient, it’s what keeps me ordering the same thing every time I visit here.

The space is relaxing on late afternoons, when take-out business temporarily dies down. Retractable garage doors separate the sidewalk patio from the small dining area, allowing you watch the world go by in vibrant Hillcrest, not to mention fill your stomach with food and booze for under $10 easily.

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