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Go-2-Grill: Mediterranean Food For Birmingham

Chicken Shawerma from Go-2-Grill in Hoover, Alabama

Chicken Shawerma, complete with salad, rice, hummus, baba ghanoush and pita bread, is one of Go-2-Grill’s signature servings, available as a dinner plate or lunch serving.

One of the great things about living in the Birmingham area is the fact that we are blessed with many good restaurants.

For just about any type of cuisine you could want, there is probably at least one good place, if not two or three. For Colleen and me, Mediterranean food is a favorite.

The term Mediterranean, of course, carries a rather general geographic reference, and can include food from lots of cultures, including Greece, Lebanon and Italy, to name just a few.

We were saddened when, a year ago this month, a locally run Persian restaurant in Hoover that had been a favorite of ours shut its doors, limiting our choices.

Mike Alassi, Owner, Go-2-Grill, Hoover, Alabama

Owner Mike Alassi is usually behind the register, and is always happy to explain the ingredients in Go-2-Grill’s varied offerings.

But there are still options to sample cuisine from cultures afar, and the Go-2-Grill in Hoover may pleasantly surprise you.

Opened by owner Mike Alassi in January of 2012, Go-2-Grill used to be known by a different name:  The In-N-Out Grill.

Though Alassi changed the name a couple of months ago, everything else—including the menu—remains the same.

Baba ghanoush, served by Go-2-Grill, Hoover, Alabama

Go-2-Grill is one of the few places in Birmingham where you can enjoy Baba ghanoush, a dish usually made with eggplant, tomatoes and other vegetables and that’s popular as an appetizer throughout much of the Middle East.

Located in the WalMart shopping center at 2978 Hwy 150 in Hoover, Go-2-Grill is admittedly a bit short on atmosphere. With fluorescent lighting, paper plates and utensils, there’s little to convey a Mediterranean setting, but we’re not counting off for that.

What does impress is the food.

When Colleen and I visit, we typically choose from the Greek offerings.  These include grilled chicken kabobs, lamb kabobs, gyros, tahini or Falafel (a traditional Arab concoction of ground chickpeas and fava beans).

But Go-2-Grill also appeals to folks looking for standard American fare.  In fact, though we’ve not tried them, we’ve heard comments that the burgers are outstanding, while others rave about their wings and baked potatoes (giant size and loaded).

We have always found the service to be friendly.  You’re likely to find Alassi himself at the register much of the time, and we appreciate his always checking with us to make sure the food is good.

If the choices overwhelm you, Go-2-Grill has lots of pictures of their entrees on the walls to help you decide.

Desserts include baklava, a rich and sweet pastry made in layers with phyllo dough, nuts and honey.

You can order to go by calling 205-444-2014.

You can find Go-to-Grill on Facebook, too.

Here’s where to find the place:

Mediterranean Dining at In-N-Out

If you enjoy Mediterranean dining, Hoover’s In-N-Out Grill—in the WalMart shopping center on Hwy 150—needs to be high on your list to visit.

I wouldn’t call the atmosphere elegant, but the food makes up for it.  We’ve visited several times and have never been disappointed.

Colleen and I stopped there for dinner Saturday evening.  She had the Chicken Kabobs, and I had the Chicken Kawerma, one of their signature dishes.  Our dinners, complete with fresh salads and an order of their wonderful Baba Ghanouj appetizer with Pita bread, set us back less than $20.

We left full, happy and satisfied.

Falafeel, lamb, and grape leaves are among In-N-Out Grill’s Mediterranean offerings, but others rave about their hamburgers.

Service has always been friendly and efficient.  Mike, the owner, seems genuinely interested in making sure that your dining experience is a good one.

You can see their menu on their website.  For orders to go, call 205-444-2014.

In-N-Out Grill is open seven days a week:  Sundays through Thursdays from 10am ’til 9pm, and Fridays and Saturdays, 10am ’til 10pm.


Beautiful Music in Birmingham

Colleen and I learned quite a bit last night about violins. The knowledge comes courtesy of Ted Haddin, a violinist who plays Friday evenings at Nabeels, one of our favorite places to dine in Birmingham (outstanding Greek and Italian dishes, by the way).

I asked Ted what makes Stradivarius violins so coveted. Their origins go generations back in time to the forests of Italy, where wood was harvested and then aged, sometimes for so many years that a violin maker would use wood aged from generations before. Woods were treated with compounds made from various materials; the exact nature and mix of these compounds was often a closely guarded secret, making replication extremely difficult.

There is some debate about whether Stradivarius violins actually present superior sounds to all other violins; regardless, they are highly coveted and are believed to be only a few hundred in number. Depending on time and place of origin, a Stradivarius could fetch several million dollars today. Ted thinks he could tell a real Stradivarius from a fake.

Ted Haddin

I didn’t know this, but you can actually open a violin to fine tune some of the wood pieces inside, but it’s extremely delicate work and, done by the wrong hands, can ruin the instrument; only a few people in the country are considered experts at doing this.

Ted told us the story of a building superintendent entering the New York apartment of a man who had passed away, only to discover newspapers stacked to the ceiling. In one corner was a violin case, containing what turned out to be a Stradivarius.

Ted played a beautiful piece for us last night he wrote himself, called ‘Winds over Patras,’ named for the Greek community where John Krontiras, the owner of Nabeels, grew up.

Ted has been playing the violin since his childhood years. As a teenager living on a chicken farm near Tampa, Florida, Ted played classical pieces for his grandfather who was also a violinist and who owned a Stradivarius that Ted got to play. We can only imagine how proud grandpa must have been to hear those sounds drift across the field amid the feathers and eggs!

After his grandfather died, the coveted instrument disappeared, and Ted never saw it again. Life isn’t always fair, but given Ted’s love of the instrument and his ability to create such wonderful music with it, Colleen and I know who should have gotten it.

Stop by Nabeels on a Friday evening and ask Ted to play something for you. You’ll both enjoy it…