I don’t know why I love eating inside grocery stores so much. In college, my favorite restaurant was a tiny mom & pop vegetarian Indian grocery with a couple booths and a one-woman kitchen in the back. I’d go there by myself to eat coconut chutney, uttapam and rose milkshakes. It’s still the best Indian food I’ve ever had. (If you ever visit Greenville, SC, go to Swad.)
One time (also in college) when it was my turn to pick the restaurant, I made my friends go to Whole Foods and pay a million dollars for an uppity grocery buffet. They were so furious.
Here in Charlotte, I delight in the existence of Super G’s in-store cafeteria and bakery and smaller market+meal concepts like Earl’s, Reid’s and 7th Street Public Market. Most recently, I added Cedar Land to my list.
Cedar Land is a specialty Middle Eastern grocery store and Lebanese restaurant on Central Avenue. (The name and iconic green cedar tree come from the flag of Lebanon.) The only excuse I have for not visiting sooner is that Ben Thanh is right next door and I’m always in there.
To the left is a small specialty grocery with shelves piled high with spices, teas and condiments you can’t always find in other stores.
To the right is a restaurant section with two rows of red booths, minimal decor and a small TV on the wall flipped to CNN.
The menu is full of Mediterranean specialties like hummus, grape leaves and (my favorite) falafel. If you feel lost, they included pictures on the menu.
I got the veggie combo (4 sides) with falafel, hummus, fatoush and tabbouleh. My boyfriend got the mixed grill, which is shish kabob, tawook and kafta kabob with rice.
I demolished this plate of food. I had my doubts about the hummus because it looked paler than any I’ve ever seen and that signaled blandness but it was lemony and garlicky and good. The fatoush (salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and toasted pita) is the best I’ve ever had. And the falafel was the crispy chickpea goodness I expected.
Most entrees are $9-$12 or you can drag all your friends to eat in a grocery store like I did in college and get the Cedars Feast for 10, which includes shish kafta, shish kabob, shish tawook, beef shawarma, chicken shawarma, hummus, saffron rice, specialty house salads and thick-cut french fries for $109.99. I think that’s about how much one plate of food on the Whole Foods hot bar costs.
Connect with Cedar Land