Huge Middle Eastern Sandwich Platters at Aya’s Café

Today Luncher John tries Aya’s kebabs

On the quiet 2100 block of Arch Street is Aya’s Café, a restaurant specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine. While the primary focus for this Zagat-rated spot is undoubtedly its BYO dinner service, Aya’s also serves up some lunch options for those craving some good Middle Eastern food.

The first thing you notice when you enter and sit down at Aya’s is the nice ambience. The surprisingly roomy restaurant, which seats about 50, has some authentic decorations, including drapes, pots and pitchers, as well as mood music, so you feel like you have been transported to the other side of the world.

Most of the lunch entrees are priced over the $10 limit, so your best bets are the appetizer or sandwich selections. I chose the chicken kabob sandwich ($9), which arrived at my table after a wait that was probably longer than it should have been considering the small number of customers at the time. The chicken kabob was not so much of a sandwich as it was a huge platter. It was served open-faced on a large pita with huge chicken kabob pieces, vegetables and tahina sauce. Good luck trying to pick it up and eat the whole thing as a sandwich, as that’s not happening. You’re better off cutting up slivers of the pita and filling. It was both filling and really good, as the taste of the kabobs lingers for a while.

For dessert, I ordered up a serving of baklava ($6). It’s always been one of my favorite desserts, especially because it takes great care and time to make it with all of its various layers. Just like the chicken kabob sandwich, the Aya’s portion of baklava was enormous. In fact, it may have been too big and thick. You’re only given a fork to eat it, but it was tough to try to cut the piece with a fork. After I obtained a knife, cutting up the baklava still proved difficult. The taste was good, but it was not my favorite baklava experience.

Aya’s Café is a nice lunch spot for its filling sandwich platters, though I’d actually be more interested in checking out its dinner entrees some time.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Nice décor and ambience in restaurant
  • Enormous serving size of chicken kabob sandwich
  • Big piece of baklava for dessert

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Limited options under $10
  • Somewhat slow lunch service
  • The baklava was a little tough to cut

Aya’s Cafe, 2129 Arch Street, 215-567-1555


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