When I’m hungry for some fragrant, savory, spicy and delicious Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean and Asian food, I know where to go—Apache Boulevard in Tempe. I don’t have to venture very far to find mighty fine falafel, curry or couscous. Apache Boulevard is a veritable spice trail of flavorful food finds all clustered between Rural and Price Roads, close to Arizona State University (ASU). All are family owned and have been in business for many years. The menus are authentic and loaded with dishes that are rich in both flavor and tradition.
Curry Corner serves some of the best Pakistani food outside of Pakistan. Like its neighboring restaurants, it’s been around for years and is very popular with the locals. Then it was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and voila!- instant fame. In spite of all the fuss, Curry Corner has remained humble and authentic to the core, serving delicious, authentic dishes at extremely reasonable prices. The menu is huge. I’ve sampled the vegetarian and non-vegetarian thali (samplers of a variety of dishes) and the chicken tikka masala and, of course, the naan bread. Loved it all!
1212 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 894-1276
Located in Arizona’s largest South Asian shopping center, The Dhaba is a family owned and operated, award-winning restaurant that’s legendary for serving the finest rich, robust and authentic food of Punjab. The interior is elegant, but casual, warm and inviting. The food is intensely flavored and beautifully colored with spices that are all mixed in house. The menu also offers suggestions for the perfect wine pairings with each dish. I love the curried dishes like the Dhaba chicken korma and the Kashmiri chicken tikka masala. Dining at The Dhaba is more than just a fine meal. It’s a cultural experience thanks to the owners’ devotion to sharing both their culture and extraordinary cuisine.
1872 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 557-8800
Haji Baba is both a Middle Eastern restaurant and grocery store. It’s not about the décor, which is basic, but comfortable. It is, however, all about the food which is always delicious. I’m sure everything on the menu is yummy, but I don’t deviate from the chicken shawarma or the gyro platters. The meats are so good. The hummus is unbelievably creamy with a velvet-like consistency and perfectly pared with the light-as-a-cloud pita bread. Save room for the incredible baklava. Portions are huge, but the prices are not.
1513 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 894-1905
Khai Hoan Restaurant has been in business serving excellent authentic Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine for 16 years and has garnered a substantial reputation as being one of the best in the Valley. It’s noodle heaven! From rich brothy pho (rice noodles) to hu-tie-mi (glass and egg noodles) to bun (angel hair noodles), Khai Hoan has a noodle favorite for you. But, the menu isn’t limited just to noodles dishes. I love the spring rolls and bahn cuon, soft rice crepes stuffed with delectable meats and vegetables.
1537 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 829-7118
For more flavorful Middle Eastern fare and hookah delights try King Tut’s Cafe & Hookah Lounge. I go to King Tut’s for the tasty food, but the the sheesha selection sounds pretty intriguing. The sheesha’s sound like deserts with names like fuzzy lemonade, melon dew and tangerine dream, I can see why people get hooked on the hookah. During Ramadan, King Tut’s serves a traditional Ramadan Iftar dinner.
1125 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 921-1670
If you love great food from these exotic lands as much as I do, you will want to try all of the Apache Blvd. restaurants, if you haven’t already. Another bonus–they’re located close to light rail stops.