It has long been the fervent wish of Femme de Joie that some enterprising soul would open up a Middle Eastern/Greek/Turkish restaurant in the Redding area. She vaguely recalls a short-lived one in a food court somewhere in Enterprise back in the 1970s or early '80s, and an equally short-lived one on Antelope Boulevard in Red Bluff. Her two visits in 2011 to The Greek Shack on Hartnell left her underwhelmed (who knew you could buy frozen gyro slices from Amazon?), and never thought of stopping at Xander's when toddling along Churn Creek until she'd already passed by.
At the corner of Eureka Way and Walnut Avenue, right across the street from the track and field shared by Shasta High School and U-Prep, stands a building that has hosted a slew of fast-food joints. M. de Joie can only remember three for sure: one of the Bartel's Burgers chain, a Quizno's, and an otherwise forgotten place that served salami burgers (that would be salami atop a burger) which a friend of hers adored. Last summer Anthony's Mediterranean Cuisine moved in, and so far they seem to be thriving. Serving a simple menu of Middle Eastern salads, sandwiches, and sides, Anthony's is run by the same party behind The Greek Shack and Xander's.
There are some booths and bar tables; eat there or take out. Go to the counter to order and pay and they'll bring your order to you. Staff is cheerful and helpful.
Lamb gyro plate with Greek salad and hummus, $12.99
It isn't easily visible from the dining area, but Anthony's has one of those vertical spits that holds a big ol' hunk o' packed minced lamb slowly rotating by a heat source; the toastiest part is shaved off for the lamb gyro and cradled in a pita bread with lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki sauce. It was a bite of Nirvana to gyro-deprived folks like Amico del SIgnore and M. de Joie. Almost as good as the gyro was the small fresh Greek salad with feta, Kalamata olives, and a tangy dressing, and the mellow tahini-infused hummus with the nutty flavor of garbanzos.
Chicken gyro plate with Greek salad and hummus, $11.99
The chicken gyro was the same arrangement as the lamb, but we did not love the pressed rectangles of chicken food product (hard to call it chicken as chickens are not normally rectangular). All wrapped up with pita & accompaniments, the sandwich was adequate but not awe-inspiring like the lamb.
Babaganouj (served with pita), $4.99
A vegetarian/vegan staple, soft roasted eggplant smoothed out with tahini, garlic, and olive oil was a mild-flavored dip to go with pita wedges. It was pleasant enough but needed more tahini and garlic to ramp up the flavor.
Vegetarian dolmas, $4.99, with wedges of pita bread
Dolma means "stuffed" and can refer to a variety of vegetables (zucchini, peppers, etc.) filled with rice and whatever else the cook has on hand. Stuffed grape leaves, those cigar-shaped bites common to numerous Mediterranean countries, are usually what we think of as dolmas here in the US. These were on the soft-to-mushy side and the rice filling was bland, even with a squeeze of lemon and some tzatziki to dip into. A disappointment.
Falafel wrap, $7.99
Though the fried falafel balls were pretty darn salty by themselves, the salt wasn't as noticeable when eaten as a wrap on pita bread with tahini, loads of fresh parsley, a spicy-warm pickled pepper, and - surprise! - a strip of purple pickled turnip (don't knock it until you've tried it). Despite the frying, the sandwich made a light lunch.
Overall, M. de Joie is a fan of Anthony's Mediterranean Cuisine. Though not every dish hit the mark, she'll be back for the gyros, the hummus, and the salads. And there's quite a bit yet to be tried, including the previously unknown-to-her manakeesh (flat breads with various toppings). Prices are fair for portion size and quality and most of the dishes can be prepared quickly if you're in a hurry (the exception being the kebabs). If you've never tasted the foods of the Middle East, this is a good place to give them a try.
Anthony's Mediterranean Cuisine, 2475 Eureka Way, Redding, CA 96001. 530-768-1333. Open every day, 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Cash and cards; no checks. Vegan and vegetarian options. No alcohol (though they have a cold case with a lifetime supply of Red Bull and Rockstar). Parking lot. Follow them on Facebook.