Just after Thanksgiving, you might have seen a sign on the door of Food From Galilee that caused a gravity-drop feeling in your gut. Under a red "help wanted" sign, a handwritten note on a sheet of yellow legal paper read, “Dear Customers: We will be closed due to a family emergency, until further notice. Thanks.”
I walked the concrete sidewalks of the ever-changing, trendy and bustling Snider Plaza, headed to Galilee for a crunchy falafel platter and some bright-as-the-sun fattoush to cleanse my turkey gravy brain. I left worried. Food From Galilee would re-open, right? It would.
Later, sitting in the cozy, wood-paneled restaurant, Mohamed Elahalie, the owner's son, quietly lets on the reason for the sudden closure: The Food From Galilee family was hurting from the loss of a family member.
“We’re a traditional Palestinian family, so we took time to go through the grieving process,” Elahalie says. His grandfather had died.
The restaurant is open again, and Food From Galilee has never felt like a more heartwarming, understated spot to grab simple, good food. It's been serving since 1991.
Fattoush salad, nearly effervescent with lemon and parsley — you can feel the herbs cleaning the McDonald's from your bloodstream as you eat — is served on a Styrofoam plate. A shaved lamb and beef gyro, the meat seared quickly on the flat grill, is wrapped in a pita, thick and lightly charred from a toaster. It's the right mix of garlicky, toasty, creamy and salty. It’s simple, clean, delicious food.
It’s also astonishingly inexpensive in the age of upscale versions of the food we grew up on. A lamb gyro will set you back $5.45. Most tater tots are more expensive these days.
“It’s about the food and it’s about the tradition and it’s about the culture,” Elahalie says. “We like to keep it simple.”
It started as your basic sandwich shop. Food From Galilee served cold-cut sandwiches in 1991. Elahalie grew up in the spot — he was born in Dallas, and his parents are from Upper Galilee — and his father, Kasem, slowly incorporated the food they grew up with into the menu turkey sandwiches and American soups. Gyros, falafel, kafta and kubbi grew in popularity enough that the turkey sandwiches weren’t selling anymore. Now, it’s one of Dallas’ humblest, tastiest spots for Arab cuisine.
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“It wasn’t intentional, but people stopped ordering the soups,” Elahalie says.
Sitting with the warm gyro and crisp fattoush salad, it’s easy to understand. Nearby, a patron walks slowly to the register, unprompted, to share a story with Elahalie. The man says he’s from South Carolina, that he used to come to Food From Galilee all the time. On this day, he flew to Dallas and went to devour some kafta (a mix of ground sirloin, onions, parsley and spices).
I polish of the gyro, tzatziki sauce powering it like a light bulb with garlic, and I’m washed in relief that the restaurant reopened.
Food From Galilee, 6710 Snider Plaza