During Hidden Gems Week, the Observer food and drink writers are celebrating an abundance of diverse, delicious restaurants and bars around Dallas, places that don’t often (or ever) get mentioned by big-name food media, trendsetters, bloggers or chefs. We’re taking you outside of the ordinary to help you discover something new.
Attention, Richardson: A great sandwich is in your midst.
It comes wrapped in foil, the shape of a slightly shrunken American football. It comes, for $3 extra, with an enormous takeout container of fries. It overflows with a mixture of beef and lamb. It tastes a lot better than its squat, squashed shape would look on your Instagram. It’s the Moroccan sandwich at Medina Moroccan and Mediterranean Fusion.
Medina, on Main Street in the historic downtown, is a small place with an even smaller kitchen, specializing in the kind of customizable meat-and-rice bowls that The Halal Guys briefly made into a fad. But it has a few types of sandwiches, too, available either in pita bread or “Moroccan-style” — on a sort of short, airy baguette and with tahini and a homemade spice blend. (Why a baguette? Morocco gained its independence from France in 1956, and French colonial influence still lingers in the culture. When I visited Fez in 2010, hawkers and trinket peddlers tried selling stuff to me in French.)
Medina’s sandwiches look unprepossessing, to say the least. That’s OK: You can save the time you would be wasting shooting pictures and just eat them. Sick of food so pretty it forgot to be good? Go to Medina. (For the photo above, I spilled out only about a quarter of my enormous helping of fries.)
The sandwiches are tremendously filling and downright delicious. The beef and lamb combo sandwich ($6) comes with a generous helping of meat, tender and beguilingly seasoned, plus tomatoes, a squirt of tahini and tart pickles cut into long, thin slices.
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Those fries, dusted with salt and red pepper, aren’t bad either. Of course, after placing my order, I heard them dropping into the fryer, the best guarantee of freshness.
No reasonable stomach would have much remaining room after such a quick feast. But my eyes kept darting to the shelf of pistachio baklava cut into slightly too-big squares.
“We just made it fresh,” the man at the counter told me. Judging from the tenderness of the pastry and the soft, warm smoothness of the flavors, he was right.
Medina Moroccan and Mediterranean Fusion, 114 E. Main St., Richardson. 214-774-9120. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m to 1 p.m., 3 p.m. to midnight Friday; 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.