Located in the heart of Irving, Fenjani Mediterranean Grill is many things: a buffet, coffee shop, Hookah lounge, a great place to see live music, a perfect spot for a private party or family meal. In all arenas, it succeeds. Situated in an unassuming shopping center between an auto insurance dealer and a liquor store, the gorgeous interior is in sharp contrast to the bland exterior.
There are two entrances. On the left, a new buffet is open for lunch on weekends. The buffet — in a space that can seat 100 — is huge, with plenty of hot beef and chicken dishes, salads, hummus, baba ghanoush and desserts. To the right, a huge, breathtaking restaurant.
Everything hanging from the walls, the design and furniture are all meticulously designed. This is an authentic representation of the Levant, a large area in the eastern Mediterranean that includes Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In addition to the tables, couches are made with cloth from Jordan. The furniture itself, as well as the gorgeous arches, was handmade by a Lebanese designer.
Traditional Egyptian art hangs from the walls — even the teapots are works of art. There are shelves full of figurines made out of mud and clay, also from Egypt, with paintings of Egyptian farmers, women in traditional Egyptian clothing, even fortune tellers examining leftover coffee grounds in cups of Turkish coffee.
At Fenjani, people hang around playing backgammon and chess. Others lounge on couches with hookahs while they watch sports on TVs that are there if you want them, but not loud enough to be intrusive if you don't. Some come to eat, others are working on their laptops while having a cup of coffee or tea. There are tables outside in the back, with plans to further develop a patio. There's even a stage with a sophisticated sound system for live entertainment on weekends. Arabic singers or DJs perform, often accompanied by belly dancers. Last weekend, a belly dancer was dancing with a snake.
The main restaurant has been open since August. Your server will bring you a case with all the hookah flavor options inside, giving you a chance to smell them. You can combine any two and for a few dollars extra, and they'll top the hookah with a slice of orange or pineapple. Skittles was an interesting option, but a mix of orange and mango was heavenly, well worth the lightheadedness from inhaling tobacco. Even if you are no stranger to hookah lounges, these hookahs are particularly beautiful, tall and exotic.
The food is made from scratch, mostly with recipes from Jordan. The pita is thin and the hummus is gloriously creamy. The beef or chicken shawarma is flavorful and enough for two people. The main menu also features kabobs, falafel sandwiches and gyros.
Fenjani has American coffee, but also flavored iced coffee and — if you're looking for a real kick — Turkish coffee. They have delicious, aromatic teas, including cardamom and anise in addition to the usual black and green. They also have fresh smoothies and juices that are particularly interesting when you add mint.
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Fenjani's desserts — including rice- and bread-based puddings — are delectable. Mhalabiyeh, a milk-based pudding from Lebanon with coconut, is a stunner. The restaurant also offers a couple different kinds of baklava with walnut and pistachio. Kunafeh, a grilled cheese pastry with sweet syrup and pistachio, is a must-try.
Fenjani is a cup of Arabic coffee, but also a reason to drive to Irving. Make a quick stop at a buffet, settle in for a formal meal, sit back and chill with hookah, get a jolt of caffeine, replenish with fresh juice, some live entertainment over the weekend — Fenjani can be all of these things, and in every arena it exceeds expectations. The atmosphere may be stunning, but the feel is beautifully unpretentious and welcoming.
Fenjani, 2238 W Walnut Hill Lane, Irving