“Some days are honey; some are onions.”
Chef/Owner Casablanca Restaurant
Chef Shtaya is philosophical about the vagaries of the restaurant business. As with life, business has its uncertainties. Busy days, slow days, rising costs. Regardless, The Squirrel Squad has found some certainties at Casablanca: excellent food and a warm welcome.
The coziness starts at the door where a couch awaits folks picking up to-go orders. Although why anyone would be in a hurry to leave Casablanca I can’t imagine. Everything is as pleasant and inviting as you could hope for. The walls are warm, vibrant colors. The floor is covered with rugs. Traditional Middle Eastern music plays softly in the background.
It is only fitting that the restaurant feel like home because Shtaya, as more than a dedicated owner, loves his restaurant and puts his all into it. “It’s hard work. Some days I am here, on my feet, for twenty hours,” he says.
More than making the restaurant like home, Shtaya brings his homeland into the restaurant. Shtaya imports olive oil made from olives from his father’s farm in Jerusalem.
“The secret to all our food is our olive oil. We prepare everything on the menu, except the French fries for the kids, in olive oil. The hummus, we cook the chickpeas in water, but we finish it with olive oil. I go through forty bottles a week,” Shtaya says.
Which finally brings us to the point, the food. Every single dish we have had at Casablanca has been excellent. For appetizers, we typically have to choose between hummus with falafel or baba ganoush with grilled shrimp. We love taking several friends with us to Casablanca so that we can order both. We also love the stuffed grape leaves. We need to get together a lot of friends so we can order all three.
All the entrées have been well-balanced and rich. The lamb is moist and flavorful in every variation. The sandwiches are huge meals on their own. Teh Boy’s particular favorite is the falafel pita — a warm pita stuffed to overflowing with fresh, hot falafel and mango yogurt sauce. Ask for hummus on it to make it even richer. The kefta kabob is simply delicious. The salmon melts in your mouth. The vegetables and rice are beautifully seasoned without losing their own flavors.
I only have two words for dessert: chocolate mousse! Casablanca makes some of the best chocolate mousse in town. It’s a great ending to a meal, light, fluffy and not too sweet. Of course, the baklava isn’t anything to turn your nose up at either.
If you’re a fan of hot tea, don’t miss out on Casablanca’s Arabian tea. It’s a house blend of tea and spices, made to order and sweetened with honey. It’s also wonderful over ice.
Head to Casablanca. You can’t go wrong with any of the food. While you’re there, pick up a bottle of olive oil. It is used in other local restaurants, and it will be great in your kitchen. Casablanca’s olive oil has quickly become the unofficial olive oil of The Squad. Just like the restaurant has become home-away-from-home.
2156 Young Ave
Memphis, Tennessee 38104