Gem of the Week: Amira Bakery & DeliBy Ruth Tobias
February 5, 2014
It occupies the blandest of Southeast Denver strip-mall storefronts, and the dining room’s not much to look at either. But Amira Bakery & Deli’s often packed, even at the oddest hours. To see why, you just have to look a little further - past the order counter into the tiny kitchen, where an upright shawarma spit glistening with meat and a small blackened oven tell you all you need to know about the excellent Lebanese food that awaits.
For starters, there’s the house-baked pita that’s almost spherical when it emerges, like a warm bread balloon. It comes with platters featuring, say, crunchy-fluffy falafel filled with lots of crushed parsley or two hefty, juicy kofta kebabs, served over textbook saffron rice and ultra-creamy hummus.
But that hard-working oven also produces our favorite Amira specialty: manaeesh. Though it resembles pizza, the toppings supported by the thin, bubble-edged crust take your tastebuds far from Italy. Try the lahmbaheen (pictured top), which combines finely ground lamb and beef with diced peppers and a thick, salty cheese called kashkawan. Or the lebni (pictured bottom): rich strained yogurt spread beneath a generous layer of melted kashkawan that’s drizzled with honey for a tangy-sweet kick. Or the za’atar, an earthy mixture of sesame seeds, thyme and other herbs moistened with olive oil. Or any other kind, for that matter - they’re all satisfyingly soulful.
4101 E. Evans Ave.; 303-756-7700