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Lulu's Restaurant and Deli

Update 2/2011: Lulu's is closing, perhaps relocating.

In a word: Yummy Yummy Hummus.

The specs: #0341
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Christopher Robin's Fresh Foods, 77Square; menu at menupix; Lu Lu's Deli & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Latest Lulu's Restaurant and Deli news and reviews

Lulu's restaurant and deliJM ate the arayes lahmeh.
John ate the kebab and kefta taouk combination plate with a cup of shourbat khodar soup and a mango delight.
Judith ate the chicken couscous with a cup of adas majroush and a cranberry juice.
Nichole ate the shawarma pita with a cup of adas bel-sabanekh soup and a cardamom tea.
The bill was about $65, or $16.25/person, plus tip.
We all gave Lulu's Restaurant and Deli an A- (see our grading rubric).

Lulu's is another Madison institution, and the longest-standing Middle Eastern restaurant in town. Though the exterior is nondescript, nestled in the armpit of University Avenue where is splits from Campus Drive, inside Lulu's it's warm and comfortably shabby. (We'll drop the armpit metaphor now.) Murals and decorative metal trays decorate the walls and, somewhat incongruously, discarded John Grisham novels and the odd Dave Barry book line the sideboards. We gave three cheers for the coatroom and the lack of a draft from the well-insulated front door. Why we should have to care about this in May is a rant for another time.

In addition to the rosewater-infused table water, Lulu's offers a number of tasty drinks, including a cardamom tea and a mango "special drink" sprinkled with cloves that's not as cloyingly sweet as the usual lassi.

Often it's the little extras that make a place great, and in this case the pita and hummus starter was it. The pitas, both white and whole wheat, were tasty and served very hot. The hummus (which we'll keep mentioning, it was that good) was smooth and flavorful, with just a hint of garlic and the perfect balance of chickpea and tahini flavor.

Adas bel-sabanekhAdas majroushEach of our three soups was excellent, and with enough pita and hummus could have been a light meal on its own. Between us we sampled all three offerings. The adas bel-sabanekh made with lentils, spinach, rice and cilantro was mellow and tasty. The chicken and vegetable shourbat khodar was especially hearty and well-flavored. Finally, the adas majroush featured yellow lentils pureed to a smooth creaminess that was very warming and delicious.

Shawarma pitaNichole's schawarma pita sandwich was a little hard to handle, since the white pita fell apart under too much weight and wetness from the yogurt sauce. (NB: though the server didn't offer a choice, we think you could opt for a whole wheat pita if you know to ask for it.) The tomatoes were fresh, the onions a little sharper than one would like; the meat was on the tough side, but the dish of tahini-based sauce was worth wiping clean, and the olives were primo too.

Chicken couscousJudith enjoyed the chicken couscous, which was fluffy and delicious with a large portion of tender chicken. The dish also had a good mix of vegetables: cabbage, onion, tomatoes, and squash, all lightly seasoned and delectably moist.

Combination plate: taouk, kefia, shishJohn's combination plate gave him (and the rest of us, since he was kind enough to share!) a sampler plate of chicken, sausage, vegetables and more of what he named the best. hummus. evar. The chicken was moist and well grilled, and the tender lamb and beef sausage blend was absolutely delectable.

Arayes LahmehJM liked the spiciness of everything. His pita pizza garnered Nichole's attention for its superior presentation. The meat was tender and the tomatoes a good contrast given that there would be no tomato sauce on such a dish. The fare was a little light but quite satisfying and tasty.

Finally, don't overlook the easy to overlook "deli" portion of Lulu's Restaurant and Deli in back, where you can buy bulk teas and spices, candy, and rosewater, not to mention some of that heavenly fresh hummus and frozen meats, including sausage made for Lulu's by our favorite butcher, Artamos.

Deli at LuLu'sStoried places like Lulu's do run the risk of resting on their laurels, so we leave it to those who have been there more often to judge them in that respect. We all admitted that what we paid was a little bit much for what we got. But we're willing to accept that because of the perks. Others have told stories of meals gone awry at Lulu's, but we found it charming and well-positioned.

Comments

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I have been eating at Lulu's since the mid 80's. The menu may not vary much, but the flavors are always current, fresh, and well executed. This is a family owned and operated restaraunt not a "family" restaraunt. Thank goodness for that.

Lulu's rocks! Working at the hospital - I know if I want a treat for lunch they are just around the corner. Our little market inside the hospital just started carrying some of the hummus from Lulu's which is so many levels of awesomeness.

I love LuLu's. In addition to the best hummus, they also have the best falafel! And the best stuffed grape leaves, if you can tolerate the sour. And when I'm not in the mood for the mango drink or tea, I always order a Vimto soda.

The food at LuLu's is wonderful. I have eaten there several times, try something different each time as I work my way through their menu and have never been disappointed. Everything is prepared fresh and the service and atmosphere are match the quality of the food. I highly recommend this restaurant.

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