Best Middle Eastern Cuisine in Iowa: A Delicious Journey

Middle eastern food in Iowa


Hey there! I’m Moe, and I’m inviting you on a delicious journey of the middle eastern cuisine in Iowa. Imagine this: you’re kilometers away from the Middle Eastern sun, yet every bite of food takes you right back under its warm embrace. That’s been my delicious adventure in exploring Iowa’s Middle Eastern culinary scene. From the hidden gems of Coralville to the vibrant kitchens of Cedar Rapids, each restaurant and market I’ve discovered has been a celebration of our rich, diverse flavors.

My quest began on street in Coralville, at a place called Tabooleh, and boy, was it a revelation! With each dish more flavorful than the last, my taste buds danced with joy. This journey is more than just about satisfying hunger; it’s about reconnecting with the essence of home, one savory dish at a time.

Join me as I reminisce about the aromas of spices, the laughter around shared meals, and the joy of finding a piece of home in every dish. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fellow immigrant longing for a taste of home or an Iowan local eager to explore new flavors, these culinary delights are sure to enchant your senses. Let’s get into this gastronomic adventure together and find the Middle Eastern soul of Iowa’s cuisine.

Tabooleh – Coralville’s Mediterranean Delight

Tabooleh – Coralville's MediterraneanTabooleh – Coralville's Mediterranean

Imagine walking into a place where every dish is a story, and each bite takes you on a journey. That’s Tabooleh in Coralville, IA for you – a Mediterranean restaurant that has become a culinary landmark for those seeking authentic flavors. My first visit to Tabooleh was nothing short of a revelation. The moment I stepped in, I was greeted with a lively ambiance and a staff that made me feel right at home.

Their menu is a parade of Mediterranean delights, each prepared with the freshest ingredients and a dash of affection. I was particularly impressed by their commitment to freshness and quality – it’s not just food; it’s an expression of culinary art. The flavors of their dishes, from the savory tabooleh to the rich and tender kebabs, were a testament to the essence and emotion they pour into their cooking.

But what sets Tabooleh apart is how they weave taste with emotion. Dining there isn’t just eating; it’s an experience – a delightful one that resonates with both the heart and palate. They offer a lunch buffet, dinner, and a convenient takeout option. And for those who prefer the comfort of their home, Tabooleh’s online ordering system is just a click away – a perfect blend of tradition and modern convenience.

Global Mart International – A Taste of the Middle East in Coralville

Global Mart International – A Taste of the Middle East in CoralvilleGlobal Mart International – A Taste of the Middle East in Coralville and Iowa City

A Treasure Trove of Flavors

Stepping into Global Mart International is like opening a treasure chest of Middle Eastern flavors. Located unassumingly in Coralville, this store was my first encounter with the familiar tastes of home in Iowa. The aisles are lined with everything from rich, aromatic spices to freshly baked pita bread, each item more inviting than the last. It’s a place where food is more than sustenance; it’s a celebration of culture and tradition.

Nostalgia in Every Aisle

The beauty of Global Mart International lies in its ability to transport you. For me, each visit is a trip down memory lane. Picking up a bottle of virgin olive oil, I’m reminded of family dinners back home. The shelves stocked with traditional sweets and snacks bring back memories of festive celebrations. It’s not just a shopping trip; it’s a nostalgic journey. And with their selection of Middle Eastern delicacies, from falafel mix to exotic colognes, Global Mart is a cornerstone for anyone looking to reconnect with their roots or explore new culinary landscapes.

Pitatz Lebanese Cuisine – A Lebanese Flavor in Hiawatha 

Pitatz Lebanese Cuisine – A Lebanese in Cedar Rapids Iowa

First Impressions

Finding Pitatz Lebanese Cuisine was like uncovering a hidden gem in Hiawatha. The first time I visited, I was immediately struck by the warm, welcoming atmosphere. It’s a place where the flavors of Lebanon are brought to life in the heart of Iowa. From the very first bite of their falafel wrap, I knew I had found something special. The blend of spices, the freshness of the ingredients – it was a delightful reminder of the rich culinary heritage of the Middle East.

Lebanese Influence in Hiawatha

Pitatz isn’t just about serving food; it’s about sharing a piece of Lebanese culture. Their Shawarma wraps, infused with authentic spices and cooked to perfection, are a testament to their dedication to authenticity. Eating there is more than just a meal; it’s an experience that transcends geographical boundaries. It’s a place that not only caters to those craving a taste of home but also introduces the wider community to the wonders of Lebanese cuisine. Each dish they serve is a celebration of flavor, tradition, and the joy of sharing a meal.

Vytyl Store – Cedar Rapids’ Culinary and Cultural Hub

Vytyl Store – Cedar Rapids' Culinary and Cultural Hub

A Regular Destination

Vytyl Store – Cedar Rapids' Culinary and Cultural Hub Iowa City

In Cedar Rapids, my regular go-to spot for a taste of the Middle East is Vytyl Store. More than just a grocery store, Vytyl has become a central hub for the Middle Eastern community and those curious about our cuisine. Each visit here is like a mini-adventure. The store offers an impressive array of products – from essential spices and kitchen staples to a variety of candies like Galaxy and Bounty, reminiscent of the treats back home.

Beyond Groceries

Vytyl Store – Cedar Rapids' Culinary and Cultural Hub Iowa CityVytyl Store – Cedar Rapids' Culinary and Cultural Hub Iowa City

But Vytyl Store is more than just a place to shop. It’s a vibrant community center where culture and cuisine intersect. Their kitchen serves up some of the most authentic Middle Eastern dishes in the area, offering a delightful experience for both newcomers and those well-acquainted with our cuisine. Whenever I miss the flavors of home or want to introduce friends to our culinary traditions, Vytyl Store is my top recommendation. It’s a place where every meal is a celebration of our rich, diverse heritage.


As our flavorful journey through Iowa’s Middle Eastern culinary landscape comes to a close, I’m reminded of how food connects us, no matter where we are in the world. While Iowa has its own unique offerings, the United States is a vast tapestry of Middle Eastern culinary experiences, each with its own story to tell.

For those of you in other parts of the USA, the journey doesn’t end here. In New York City, you can explore places like Tanoreen in Brooklyn for a taste of traditional and innovative Middle Eastern dishes. Over on the West Coast, Los Angeles boasts gems like Carousel Restaurant, where the flavors of the Middle East come alive in Glendale and Hollywood.

And let’s not forget the vibrant Middle Eastern culinary scene in Dearborn, Michigan. Check out Al Ameer, known for its authentic Lebanese cuisine that has earned national acclaim.

No matter where you are in the USA, there’s a world of Middle Eastern flavors waiting to be discovered. Each restaurant, café, and store is a doorway to our rich heritage and a celebration of the diverse culinary traditions we bring to this country. So, keep exploring, tasting, and enjoying the journey. After all, every meal is an opportunity to savor a piece of home and create new memories.

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