Ethnic restaurants nearly always guarantee plenty of choice for vegetarians, and Andy’s Mediterranean Grille in Walnut Hills has them in spades. Perched on sloping Nassau Street just off Gilbert Ave., Andy’s is an unassuming building that belies the casually sophisticated, deceptively cool atmosphere inside. The cozy, chock full of character restaurant is the creation of brothers Majed and Andy Hajjar, natives of Zahle, Lebanon, who originally opened it as a deli in the late ‘90’s. The enclosed, heated patio is suitable for both winter and summer dining, and the terra cotta floor tiles, abundance of honey-colored wooden walls, and intricately painted ceilings give the space a hip, friendly feel.
Enhancing the hipster vibe is a unique collection of hookahs (large pipes for smoking flavored tobaccos after your meal), including a massive one balanced on the edge of the inviting bar. There are daily lunch specials on offer, a weekly ladies night with live music, and on the weekends it’s all about the belly dancers.
We visited the restaurant on a weekday afternoon and took full advantage of the 3 items for $10 lunch special, which consists of your choice of appetizer, salad and pita wrap. I reveled in the bounty of appetizers – all very tempting, and all vegetarian. There is Red Lentil Soup, fries, olives, Spinach & Feta Pie, Vegetarian Grape Leaves, Baba Ghannouj (eggplant and tahini), Hummus with Tahini, Labneh (Lebanese yogurt spread with garlic) and the Mediterranean Sampler, made up of hummus, baba ghannouj, labneh, tabouli and olives. My dining companion highly recommended the hummus - a pureed spread of chickpeas and garlic with freshly chopped herbs swimming in a puddle of olive oil – which came with fresh-from-the-oven pita bread. It was divine.
The house salad came with a deliciously zesty dressing, made from an authentic family recipe. There are a number of scrumptious salads to tempt, including Tabouli (bulgur with diced parsley, green onion, tomato, olive oil & lemon), Greek Salad, Fatoush Salad (crisp lettuce, fresh vegetables and toasted pita with olive oil & vinegar), Lebanese Salad (crisp lettuce and vegetables), and the Ultimate Tabouli Salad (diced lettuce, tomato, cucumber and green peppers with tabouli, olive oil and lemon juice).
Rounding out the 3 for $10 menu are wraps, two of which are vegetarian: Falafel (vegetable patties rolled in pita bread), and Hummus & Falafel (hummus wrapped with vegetable patties). Both are bursting with flavor and unexpectedly filling.
Andy’s entrées are also vegetarian friendly. There is a Falafel Platter for $15, a Vegetarian Trio, consisting of a large house salad with hummus, baba ghannouj or grape leaves for $16, and Vegetarian Kabobs (two veggie skewers of zucchini, onion, tomato, green pepper, mushrooms, garlic and lemon) served over rice, also $16. In the evenings Lebanese pizza, consisting of Lebanese flat bread with a spread of herbs and spices, topped with diced tomato and feta cheese, is also on hand.
The restaurant has an extensive wine list, a full service bar, a laid back, friendly wait staff, superb food and a fantastic vibe. The meals are delicious, filling and well worth the money spent. I can hardly wait to visit again.