"Yes Muhammad, what can I get you?" Saad asks ones of his regulars. The hospitable owner of his namesake eatery, Saad's, offers diners Middle Eastern, American and even American-style Middle Eastern cuisine. Just a few blocks from campus is the perfect break from the monotony of Penn dining. Located across the street from a beautiful mosque, Saad's caters to West Philadelphia's Muslim population or anyone who appreciates quality, homemade falafel, tabouli and baba ghanouj.

Saad makes a mean falafel sandwich for only $3.50 -- pita filled with three falafel balls, lettuce, tomatoes, strips of pickles and tahineh sauce. The falafel is warm and not too crumbly, and the sandwich is wrapped in foil to help inept eaters avoid the ever-dreaded sandwich deconstruction. A variety of additions, like spinach salad or feta, are available for just 25 cents more than the basic falafel. Salads like the Greek Salad Container provide vegetarians a filling meal for $3.50-$5.

For meat eaters, Saad's boasts a range of dishes made with meat that is "All Halal, Only Halal, Always Halal" (think Kosher gone Muslim). If you're in the mood for something more American than beef shish kabob or lamb shawarma, try the chicken cheesesteak ($5 sm, $7.50 lrg) or rotisserie chicken ($7 for half, $14 whole). All meat sandwiches can be served Saad's favorite way, the "Maroosh Way." Saad brought the concept of "maroosh" from his native Lebanon, where a restaurant named Maroosh is famous for serving sandwiches on a roll as opposed to the traditional pita. What could be a more appropriate way to serve chicken shish tawook -- grilled chicken with sauteed onions, garlic sauce, tomatoes, parsley and pickles -- in West Philadelphia than on a toasted hoagie roll?

No East Mediterranean meal would be complete without a bit of baklava ($1.25-$1.50). Depending on the day, Saad's serves the honey-doused pastry plain, or with a variety of toppings such as pistachios and walnuts. The chocolate-drizzled bakalva fingers will leave even those without a sweet tooth licking their fingers.

Whether it is something exotic or familiar you seek, look no further than 45th and Walnut. Saad will have you coming back until he knows you by name.


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