Sahara Cafe Lives Up to its Name

21 Jul

I made my first (and likely last) journey to the Sahara today. Sahara Cafe, that is. You can find it on Tamiami Trail in Sarasota … just a stones throw from Sarasota High School. I had seen write-ups in local publications about the Sahara and all had given the little eatery fairly positive praise. I honestly can’t do the same after a disappointing first experience. The atmosphere inside was lacking in character and no music could be heard at all. No TVs around either. So …. I waited quietly in the deafening silence as I anxiously anticipated my gyro and baklava. Sadly, both were nearly as dry as the Sahara desert itself. 

The strips of meat cradled inside the room temperature pita bread were lacking moisture and obviously were not cut fresh off the traditional spiral  warmer you see in most Greek and/or Middle Eastern diners. The pita bread was thin & dry and quickly fell apart after my few bites. The flavor was not bad at all, yet it could not overcome the overall dryness of the dish. I guess I was just spoiled by the wonderful food I enjoyed in my youth at Knossos restaurant in Vienna, VA. It is still the standard by which I gauge other eateries of its kind.  

The baklava, seen above dusted with ground pistachio nuts, was — you guessed it — a little dry. Especially the top few sheets of filo dough on the treat. To me, the rich abundance of honey combined with the crunchiness of the filo and nuts is what makes this dessert so incredibly special. I give the baklava at the Sahara Cafe a C-plus. Not bad, but nowhere near as good as others I have savored in the past.

I will continue my quest for top shelf gyros and baklava in Sarasota. I know El Greco is pretty good — I have been there a few times before. I’ve heard that the Oasis on South Tamiami Trail is worthy of a try. That will probably be my next stop — so stay tuned for more.

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3 Responses to “Sahara Cafe Lives Up to its Name”

  1. Val July 25, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    you absolutely must try Pegasus on Bee Ridge Road-breakfast, lunch, and dinner are absolutely delicious…and reasonable

  2. dixiedining July 25, 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    Will do, Val — thanks for the tip!

    Have you tried the Oasis Cafe yet?

  3. Rick November 18, 2008 at 8:11 pm #

    My wife and I had been to Sahara a few times, and although it wasn’t particularly appealing to me, she seemed to enjoy it, so I went along as the wonderful husband that I am. One evening, I called to ask what time they would be closing, and was told 8:00. After driving across town, we arrived at 7:30, a good thirty minutes before closing. As we approached the entrance, the lights inside were turned off. After finding the door locked, I looked in through the window and saw an employee trying to hide from us behind the counter. You can imagine my anger at that point; if they didn’t want to serve food that close to their closing time, they should have said so on the phone. Needless to say, we have not and will not return. I think that their business is drying up in much the same way that your food did. Good Riddance.

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