falafel at tazé mediterranean street food photo by david koyaluk

Review: Tazé Mediterranean Street Food in St. Louis

Classic Middle Eastern and Mediterranean favorites are dished up quickly from the build-your-own menu of Tazé Mediterranean Street Food. Since its launch in 2015, the sleek restaurant, meticulously laid out by Space Architecture & Design, has become a popular downtown lunch option – so much so that it expanded with another roaring hot tandoor oven in the Central West End.

flavored hummus and pita chips // photo by david kovaluk

Flavored Hummus and Pita Chips
A generous scoop comes with every meal, but hummus is also available a la carte. Signature flavors bring the dish to a new level. The sweet, zesty caramelized onion-balsamic was my favorite with a smooth glaze of onions slowly caramelized in butter and house-made balsamic – but the jalapeno-cilantro was a spicier option also worth your time. The bright green drizzle of spicy hot freshness goes well with thick-cut pita chips, flash-fried in-house and served hot.

house salad with gyro // photo by david kovaluk

Tazé House Salad with Gyro
The house salad is essentially a Greek – loaded with fresh greens and cucumbers, hunks of tomato, Kalamata olive slices, thick chunks of feta and a sprinkling of red onion. Served with an understated house lemon vinaigrette (balsamic is also available), it’s a solid foundation for any of the meats you can add for a small upcharge. I especially enjoyed making this a heartier salad with a hot, generous heap of savory lamb and beef gyro meat.

These crispy, deep-fried spheres of greatness are prepared simply with garbanzo and fava beans soaked overnight then mixed with salt, parsley and a handful of greens before being flash fried. Crunchy as a down-home hushpuppy, the inside of the falafel is pillow soft. A side order pairs well with the house-made harissa, a fiery hot red sauce made from roasted red peppers, garlic, onion and a whole mess of cayenne. You’ll want to drizzle it on everything you order.

tandoor chicken meal // photo by david kovaluk

Tandoor Chicken Meal
Standard meal options give the choice of greens, saffron rice or pita bread as a base for a variety of proteins. Start with the standard white pita, baked in-house. Of the proteins, the yogurt-marinated tandoor chicken breast is particularly tender and alive with ginger, turmeric and heavy flavors of garam masala. Top that with the tzatziki, a smooth blend of Greek yogurt, cucumber and mint and get it fully dressed with greens, tomato, onions, feta, pepperoncini, cucumbers and pickles. Along with the complimentary hummus, the tabbouleh is an ideal side – a fresh and airy salad dish of fine bulgur, chopped parsley, mint, tomato, fresh lemon and vinegar.

The Downside
A number of the side dishes should be avoided at all costs, including the quinoa salad, which was colorful but lacked any discernible flavor. Worse was the lentil soup – sad, wilted vegetables swimming in a bland and watery broth.

Matt Berkley is a longtime contributor and critic for Sauce Magazine.