When the LYNX light rail opens this weekend, you can ride to the end of the line in the middle of UNC Charlotte’s campus. But if you get off one stop before, you can walk to the Middle East.
At the J.W. Clay Boulevard station, look for Lazeez Mediterranean Grill in a nondescript building tucked behind the park-and-ride deck. The restaurant goes deep into specialty dishes from different parts of the Arab and Ottoman world.
On the appetizer list, I especially like the meat-filled flatbread called arayes, a favorite in Lebanon. Two discs of paper-thin pita bread are spread with minced lamb, then crisped on a griddle. There’s a ramekin of yogurt for dipping, if you like.
For your main dish you can’t go wrong with chicken shawarma. The juicy slivers of meat are popular on menus in every area of the Middle East.
Want to be more geographically specific? Try adana kabobs, native to Turkey. Or mansaf, a lamb shank cooked in yogurt, known as the national dish of Jordan.
I chose to visit Yemen — via a comfort-food platter of baked chicken and saffron rice, both infused with a subtle spice mix called mandi.
How do all of these flavors come together in one restaurant? Thank Lazeez’s owners Faraz Ahmed and his sister Adeeba Zoonash, who are not from the Middle East, surprisingly, but from India.
“Our grandmother was born in Qatar but raised in India,” says Zoonash, who remembers Middle Eastern dishes on the family table growing up. When her brother Ahmed went off to study at University of Michigan, “I made friends from many Middle Eastern countries,” he recalls. Their cuisines — “both mild and spicy, lots of flavor” — became something of an obsession.
Arriving in Charlotte, he found “lots of restaurants based in one particular country, but none that show the range of traditions.” Ahmed and Zoonash started Lazeez in 2017.
Why the name Lazeez? “It’s a word that’s shared in many languages, from the Middle East to India,” Ahmed says. “It means ‘delicious.’”
Lazeez Mediterranean Grill
Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday Noon – 11 p.m.
Sunday Noon. – 10 p.m.
9311 J.W. Clay Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28262
(980) 260 – 3130
Center City & nearby
Carolina apple cider
Indian street food
Greens from South Carolina
Upstate NY Italian sausage
Blackberry memories of Brooklyn
Puerto Rican kabobs
South Boulevard, South Tryon & southward
Mexico + Greece = holiday treats
Cuban box pig
Snack foods from India
SC meets Vietnam
Little corner of El Salvador
Arepas from Venezuela
Indian sweets for Diwali
Korean at China Wing
Indian food in south Charlotte
Fort Mill — real Chinese
Ready for Laotian food in Charlotte?
Psst! There’s a European Market hidden just south of Ballantyne
Independence Boulevard, Monroe Road & environs
Nigeria in east Charlotte
Secret Greek grocery
Colombian BBQ & snacks
Detroit hot dogs
New York bagels
Iran Kabobs in Matthews
Ramen in Matthews
Russian picnic fare
Armenia in Matthews
Katayef – holiday dessert at Pita Kabab in Matthews
Crispy NJ pizza comes to east Charlotte
Central Av, Albemarle Road & vicinity
Dominican street food
Jamaican black cake
Somali stew and sides
Schawarma from Jerusalem
‘Tis the Season for Champurrado
Latino bakery feeds a region
Taste Monterrey, Mexico
Tamales in Plaza Midwood
One restaurant, three Latino traditions
Guatamala in east Charlotte
You buy – We fry
French/Vietnamese pastry arrives in east Charlotte
North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Vegetarian eats from south India
Indian Dosa Night
Middle East via Lynx
Bahn Mi Brothers
Turkish near UNCC
BBQ from Pakistan
Find a taste of Hyderabad at Nawabs Kebabs
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Grits & cornmeal
Laos in Kings Mountain
Multiple Places & Food Trucks
5 eateries for Black History Month
Charlotte’s International food scene
South’s Love Affair with Soft Drinks
5 Places to “Eat Northern”
Northern Favorites: Six More Eateries
Curry journey: Vietnam, Trinidad, India
Spiedies – Food Truck
5 best bites on Albemarle Road
Lao Sausages – Food Truck
Western Indian – Food Truck
Himalayan flavors – Food Truck
Shaved ice goes global in Charlotte