With one of the nation’s largest populations of Muslims, Christian Lebanese, and Palestinian immigrants, dishes like beef shawarma, baba ghanouj, and falafel are as ubiquitous in Motown as Coney Dogs and Bumpy Cake.
Auburn Hills’ Mediterranean Village Grill marries American and Lebanese cultures. After immigrating from Lebanon in 2012, owner and Oakland University School of Medicine assistant professor, Inaya Hajj-Hussein, had difficulty meeting new people, and was unsatisfied with the selection of local Lebanese restaurants at the time. Rochester’s 2941 Mediterranean Street Food and Shish Palace were months, if not years, away from opening. “I wanted to serve American with a Mediterranean twist,” she says.
Hajj-Hussein’s menu includes seasoned French fries topped with chicken or beef shawarma, parsley, green onions, diced tomatoes, melted cheddar cheese, and garlic-cilantro aioli sauce. While the diner offers Halal-certified, authentic Lebanese homemade options like baba ghanouj, lentil soup, and tabouli, all of which are vegan, they also make a mean beef ground burger that features a number of ethnic spices. Their wings basket is seasoned with garlic and cilantro and comes with a Moroccan dipping sauce option.
While there are a number of decadent choices on the menu, eating healthy and mindfully is central to Hajj-Hussein’s philosophy, and so her restaurant also offers a variety of salads like kale lentil and fattoush. The restaurant aims to promote the idea that the Mediterranean diet is synonymous with a salubrious diet, and Hajj-Hussein encourages patrons to savor every texture and taste so that they can truly enjoy what her grill has to offer. Maintaining a sustainably consistent eating pattern means splurging every now and then.
The dining experience at Mediterranean Village Grill offers a reminder of the United States’ reputation of being “the melting pot” of the nations — and that there’s more than one way to cook a burger.
3047 E Walton Blvd., Auburn Hills; 248-977-5552. L & D daily.