You know what’s good here?
Damascus and pita bread, made fresh and just out of the oven; pair with hummus or baba ghanouj (a roasted eggplant dip) for a side dish or an appetizer.
Felafel, chickpea patties, just crispy enough on the outside and quite tender on the inside – ideal for vegetarians or even meat eaters interested in a flavorful, substantial meal.
And there’s more to like at Arabesque.
Fatayer pies are delicate pastries made with either spinach and cheese or beef and cheese. There are full-meal salads that can be ordered as is or with added grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon. The arugula salad features goat cheese, apples, pecans, craisins, heart of palm, and a strawberry vinaigrette.
There are several kabobs to choose from, slow-cooked over an open flame and served with rice and grilled vegetables. Entrees include curry, grilled fish, char-grilled quail, and even spaghetti and meatballs. There also are pizzas to choose from. One is the Turkish, with tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, mint, and olive oil.
All meals are aromatic and tasty, infused with special Mediterranean herbs and spices. For dessert there is Turkish coffee and Mediterranean pastries.
How did Arabesque get its start?
An arabesque is a ballet posture or “an ornamental design consisting of intertwined flowing lines, originally found in Arabic or Moorish decoration,” according to Webster’s dictionary. Five years ago, French Canadians Silvanh Waghi and her son Peter, who have roots in Lebanon, came up with the recipes and the concept for Columbia’s Arabesque.
What does the place look like?
For a Persian cultural experience without the expense of a plane ticket, this is the restaurant to visit.
The ambiance is both modern and distinctly Arab. Wide booths situated by windows are deep and sumptuously upholstered in jewel-toned, Persian-inspired fabrics. There is a massive Persian rug over ceramic tile in the main dining area. Seating at tables is upholstered fabric or leather contemporary chairs. The open bar is equipped with leather seating as well. Seating was built to line the entire wall of the back dining room.
Seating is for 40-50 in a private back room, while the restaurant can seat around 250 total.
Soothing Arabic maqam-style music sometimes enhances the atmosphere.
Who eats here?
Because of its location, Arabesque is certainly a neighborhood restaurant, serving the Shandon area residents. However, it pulls customers from all over Columbia and especially the USC community. According to Manager Shelly Talasaz, Arabesque is even attracting foodies from Lexington and as far away as Greenville.
WHERE: 2930 Devine St, Columbia
WHEN: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. The bar will even stay open later sometimes during weekends, points out Talasaz.
COST: $8 and under for lunch; under $20 for dinner
INFO: (803) 779-6299; Facebook