Suck on our salty meatballs, A.A. Gill.

Cincinnati Bites
Banh Mi from Pho Lang Thang

Posted Sunday, November 22, 2015

Aladdin's Eatery is a Lebanese restaurant chain based in Lakewood, Ohio, near Cleveland. Though the company's been around since 1994, its franchise expansion has heated up only recently, introducing two newish locations in both West Chester and Hyde Park.

I usually avoid chain restaurants, but reluctantly checked out the Hyde Park location, which is tucked away in a strip mall off Edwards Rd. The renovated space had once been an Aveda Fredric's hair salon school and, long before that, a Pizza Hut.

The space sports floor-to-ceiling windows and an open feel amid a warm, Mediterranean-inspired color scheme. We were surprised to find it filled with a fairly good amount of patrons despite it being somewhat hidden from the road, as though locals were privy to a little-known secret.

The menu is large, spiral bound and a bit intimidating at first -so much so that the wait staff are trained to acknowledge its size and help walk diners through the many sections. Although it offers plenty of items for carnivores, Aladdin's cuisine is also quite vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free friendly, with a number of items labeled to accommodate specific diets.

Soups, pita-bread pizzas, rolled pitas (essentially Lebanese burritos), salads, raw smoothies and a host of specialty beef kafta, lamb, kabob and chicken shawarma plates are among Aladdin's featured items. Behind the glass front counter is an impressive line-up of cheesecakes, cookies, cakes, baklava and other desserts.

Aladdin manages to offer an abundance of what I consider very expensive ingredients --pine nuts and hummus, for example-- infusing them into a great many of their relatively inexpensive, large-portioned dishes. How they do this while keeping the prices so low is a mystery.

For our most recent visit, my girlfriend opted for a specialty pita "pitza" ($8), a large, crispy pita topped with curry chicken, honey Dijon dressing, peas, banana peppers and crunchy toasted onions. I chose a bowl of lentil soup ($3.75) and a lightly toasted "Arayiss" rolled pita ($6.25) filled with sauteed beef, pine nuts, onions, tomatoes, pickles, turnips and cheddar cheese.

Lentil Soup Lentil Soup

The large bowl of lentil soup was a hearty and delicious mix of organic lentils, Swiss chard, celery, onions and hunks of potato. In past visits I've also tried their chicken-lentil soup variant, which is tasty in its own right, but the original version remains my favorite.

The intense curry and mustard flavor of my girlfriend's pita pitza proved a bit overbearing for her palate, but was still a solid choice. The toasted onions tasted nearly identical to French's fried onions (the kind you'd find in a green bean casserole), a welcome addition.

Curried Chicken Pitza Curry Chicken Pitza

My Arayiss rolled pita was a satisfying textural marriage of ingredients, from the crispy, toasted pita shell, to the crunchy bite of pickled turnips and pine nuts. The mixture of melted cheddar cheese and seasoned beef was reminiscent of a taco.

The one disappointment is easily Aladdin's pita bread served in baskets on the side. The bread is far too thin and flavorless in its untoasted state. But when this same bread is used as the toasted base of Aladdin's wraps and pita rolls, it transforms into something crispy and delicious.

Aladdin's Eatery is one of the few chain restaurants we actually enjoy. Having been there now a half a dozen times, it's become one of our favorite and most affordable Mediterranean restaurants in Cincinnati.

Aladdin's Eatery Hyde Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Aladdin\'s Eatery

Price: Cheap (under $11 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.5 out of 43.5 stars

Other Recent Reviews

  1. Mediterranean Musings at Milya Cafe
    -posted Sunday, July 16, 2017
  2. Pastrami Impressions: Shapiro's Delicatessen
    -posted Wednesday, July 5, 2017
  3. Chinese Impressions: Fortune Noodle House
    -posted Saturday, June 10, 2017
  4. A Pleasant Ridge: Grand Central Delicatessen
    -posted Monday, May 29, 2017
  5. A Lobster Oasis: Court Street Lobster Bar
    -posted Sunday, May 7, 2017
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Tabitha about Tickle Pickle:
    Haha, love your comment: " If you were deemed "different" in high school, dressed "weird" or regularly got beat up only to go on to have a decidedly higher net worth and confidence level than the rest of your abusive, judgmental peers, Northside is your home away from home." I know I saw a Groupon for Tickle Pickle recently - might have to check if that's still available!
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:33 PM
  • From Tabitha about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    This is definitely going on the list. Thanks for posting. Do they also have margaritas?
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:23 PM
  • From holly may about Urban Grill on Main:
    This is Israeli couscous, the super tiny stuff is Moroccan. I personally prefer the Israeli (also known as "pearl".)
    posted: Fri., Mar 24th, 2017 @ 4:28 AM
  • From Sommer about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    We really love having Chilango so close to us in the Kings area!!! We have gone a few times and you are right - the Chicken Tinga is the best chicken taco you can get in Cincinnati!!! Thanks for reviewing this little neighborhood gem!
    posted: Tue., Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:12 AM
  • From Tabitha about Lalo: they have margaritas?
    posted: Thu., Jan 12th, 2017 @ 12:32 PM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Swad Indian:
    @MJ: I heard family members of those who'd run Dusmesh now work out of the former Amol India in Clifton. It's called, Grill of India (
    posted: Thu., Dec 29th, 2016 @ 11:45 PM
  • From mj about Swad Indian:
    It seems Swad has changed hands. Have not see the former Dusmesh owners in my last visit (10/1/2016) and the food is just ok. Wonder where they went this time?
    posted: Wed., Dec 28th, 2016 @ 8:22 AM
  • From Rachel about Bamboo Kitchen:
    Hey there,
    I would recommend Basil Thai and Bangkok Terrace. They have wonderful Thai foods there :)
    posted: Sat., Nov 19th, 2016 @ 11:28 AM
  • From Tabitha about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    Looks good - I definitely have been wanting to try this place!
    posted: Wed., Nov 9th, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
  • From Georgia about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    So you order and pay at the counter before you get your food and they expect you to tip? That's not right.
    posted: Tue., Oct 25th, 2016 @ 10:19 AM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design