Situated on Harvard Avenue, Azama Grill in Allston is one of those eateries that looks plain on the outside and a bit plain on the inside at first, too. They serve traditional Egyptian and Middle-Eastern fare: falafel, shawarma, and kabobs in all varieties. They also offer salads, hummus, tabouli, grape leaves, and other vegetarian options. Yet as all food lovers know, sometimes the most inconspicuous-looking food spots can often be the best. And Azama Grill is a gem for various reasons.
First of all, it’s cheap. The shawarma rollups are around $5.50, and the vegetarian rollups are around $5. The entire menu is very well-priced, but the taste doesn't suffer. The meat is juicy, seasoned well, and the pickles especially add a lot of flavor. I will admit that the falafel rollups can be a bit dry on occasion, but they’re still delicious. The cook will usually ask if you want hot sauce, and you should answer yes; the sauce isn’t too spicy, but adds to the rollup’s juiciness and flavor. The only money issue to be aware of is that they have a ten dollar credit/debit card minimum. So if you’re not too hungry, come with cash.
Even with the well-priced menu, the customer service is still great. All of the employees and cooks that I’ve encountered have been friendly and chatty, even if you stumble in at 1:40 in the morning. They say hi to me when we pass each other on the street or bump into each other at an Allston coffee shop. It’s nice to know that the people preparing your food actually like you, and it makes you much less hesitant to, in my case, ask for extra pickles or mayo.
Aside from the rollup options, Azama’s also offers plate and combo options, where your meat or vegetarian dish comes with rice, salad, pita, and tahini. A $3 side order of Egyptian fries is a must-try; they’re deliciously seasoned, fried golden, and served with mayo (if you like). Other sides or appetizers include hummus, falafel, grape leaves, and spinach or meat pies, none exceeding three dollars. Azama’s is open until 2 a.m. every night, not just on Friday and Saturday. It’s awesome. Whether you need some food after a night at one of the many bars on Harvard Ave, if you’re just walking home from a cram session at the library on a Wednesday night, or if you’re tired of pizza being the only food option past midnight, Azama’s is there to satisfy your taste buds and late-night habits. There isn’t much room to sit and dine-in, so you should be prepared to order take-out if you come on a crowded night or with a large group. The service is fast, though, and always with a smile. Moral of the story: Azama’s is the diamond in the rough that most Allstonites already know about. So join the club – don’t disregard this place’s ordinary exterior and give it a try.