Punit Mattoo: Ever since I moved over to the east side of Ann Arbor, Jerusalem Garden has replaced Big Ten Burrito as my go-to place for cheap, bordering-upon-ethnic food.
Bernie Nguyen: Forget the ethnic part, I just like the food. I discovered Middle Eastern cuisine my freshman year and didn’t venture beyond hummus until I ventured into shwarma, tawook and kafta.
Kimberly Chou: I’m kind of a falafel addict. Since I got to Michigan I realized eating meat was an unnecessary cost, and a lot of the time the only good thing left is falafel. Plus Jerusalem Garden’s falafel doesn’t overwhelm you with that weird lemony aftertaste like the patties at Amer’s.
PM: Kim, please continue with your Asian stereotypes. I always felt any real lunch or dinner is automatically better if you add meat. No exceptions. That’s why I stick with the $5 chicken shwarma sandwich with tons of garlic sauce. If I’m feeling classy, I’ll go with a chicken shwarma plate.
BN: Yeah, I love that, too. The garlic sauce is more yogurty than pasty – a nice improvement. The only thing I don’t love is rubbing cold shoulders with a dozen others waiting for their takeout in the small space.
KC: But the thing is, it doesn’t even matter because, whether you’re dining in or picking up, the service is so fast.
PM: The hippies have turned to capitalism!
BN: And they’re damn good at it. Welcome to the dark side.
KC: I have to thank them for the falafel plate.
PM: Yeah, that’s such a deal.
BN: And I don’t even really like falafel that much.
KC: Daily Arts editors agree: The JG falafel recipe trumps all. The patties are deep-fried in a way that they’re crunchy on the outside, but not greasy – they’re like grainy, textured kind of crunchy, while moist in the middle without being mushy. Ah, so good.
PM: Glad to see that you’re so feeling articulate tonight.
BN: The combination plate has a ridiculous amount of food, right?
KM: Yeah – at $5.99, it includes a choice of rice or mjaddara and a salad. The Garden’s definition of salad is arbitrary: You can get a garden salad, tahini or tabouleh, but also a hulking side of hummus and pita instead.
PM: Calm down, Bernie. The only thing is, it’s a little out of the way for the average Hill dweller, and hard to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
KM: That’s true. It’s sort of tucked away, next to Earthen Jar, and it’s a chilly walk. But it’s totally worth it.