May 252007

I visited this place a few times on Saturdays, just to pick up some tasty Italian meats or a loaf of bread or whatever. Anyone who has been to a real Italian deli in a place like Boston or Philly or even Chicago will be a little disappointed in Carollo’s, but it’s a very nice, basic little store and deli counter that seems to fit KC’s status perfectly. Not great, but good. Not too big, but hey, at least we have one!

Recently I have been making an effort to patronize City market establishments in order to broaden my horizons. Basically I was getting so depressed eating subs, overpriced hamburgers and astonishingly mediocre Chinese food that I started eating healthy choice frozen dinners, food court sushi, and other unrecommended items to add a little variety. So off to the Market I go.

It’s really not that far either. Kansas City has a way of making places seem farther away than they really are. In this case, the giant interstate highway bisecting City market from downtown doesn’t hurt. But another factor (here comes the speech) is the fact that people drive everywhere. 39th street and Westport? That’s basically the same neighborhood people, you can walk from one to the other. Plaza and UMKC? Same deal. Certainly some questionable urban planning makes it difficult to navigate the walk sometimes. On my way back from City Market across the highway bridge at Main street, i discovered that the sidewalk basically ends, dumping you off in the middle of an intersection. Since I survived, I’ll take the other side of the bridge next time. All this is just to say that it’s crazy how this city compartmentalizes its development initiatives. The City market is a modest success-why not make the relatively simple effort to facilitate moving from downtown to that area? Widen and pretty up the bridge walkways for starters.

Looks like I need to start an urban development blog. Ugh, I’ll leave that to everyone else in town. I’m here to talk about Carollo’s. So as I was saying 3 paragraphs ago, I had been here, but not really realized that they served sandwiches. i just thought it was a place where you bought sliced meat and cheese. But I noticed that their sign advertised sandwiches and went in. There is no real established protocol for ordering, you just sort of catch someone’s attention. They seem basically confined to the brief list of sandwiches they have on the board. The guy who prepared my lunch was a 20 year old who spent half the time making my food and half chatting up some girl who wasn’t even buying anything. That’s the way the world works I guess. Anyhow, the whole thing took forever, but the guy was pleasant enough.

I think they have some little tables in there, but it’s really a to-go affair at Carollo’s. If the weather is nice you can sit outside at one of the tables, or toss the little torpedo in your bag and head back to work. Really quite civilized. The sandwich was damned good too, but loverboy went a bit overboard on the olive oil.

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Habashi House: City Market

 Posted by at 7:34 pm
May 242007

Recently I have not been posting, due more to laziness than anything. Not just laziness in writing, mind you, but laziness in eating. i have taken to going to the same old joints or worse yet, bringing something from home and eating at work. Ugh, I gotta stop that.

A willingness to take the short jaunt across the highway to the City market certainly opens up more intriguing possibilities as far as lunch goes. I imagine if one worked over in that area, it would be nice to be able to patronize these establishments regularly. However, people like myself who work in downtown proper are a little more hard pressed to get over there, particularly if lunch has to be a quick thing. Fortunately, the weather has been nice-ish and my boss does not take much of an interest in whether I take 2 minutes or two hours for lunch, so the Market is shaping up to be a sweet little summertime alternative to the depressingly pedestrian array of crappy sandwich joints and questionable fast food enterprises that infrequently litter the area surrounding 11th and Main.

As a relative newbie in KC, my experiences of the City market area were somewhat tainted until recently. You see, when you move to Kansas City, everyone says, “Oh, you have to go to the City Market on Saturdays!” So of course, I did. Yeah it’s quite a scene, but it seems more geared toward suburbanites and children than anything else, what with all the vendors selling crappy scented candles, homemade soap, and jewelry that would even make a hippie run screaming. Well, maybe not. That reality, combined with the experience of trying to navigate the market proper around clueless couples pushing the puffiest baby carriages in the world, made me a little hesitant to return. When did baby carriages get so damned big anyway? These things are like covered wagons these days.

Anyhow, on to Habashi house, a decent little Middle Eastern Lunch spot near the Northwest corner of the market complex. The people who work here are insanely friendly–all smiles and very welcoming. The menu offers pretty typical mediterranean fare: Gyros, Falafel, Hummus, Tabouleh, etc. This is really a much needed change of pace when lunch rolls around, because a big old greasy falafel really hits the spot like nothing else. You order at the counter, fetch your own drink and wait a short 3 minutes or so for some swarthy dude to bring a tray out to your table. Habayashi House offers free hot tea which is nice if you are into that sort of thing. A sandwich comes with one side (like hummus & pita, for example), a few olives and will set you back about five bucks. Add a little more for a drink and a counter tip and you are out of there under $7.

Sounds great, right? Well, mostly it is, but sadly the food could be a little better. The chicken gyro for instance was served with an odd, pinkish sauce that bore little resemblance to the typical yogurt-based gyro condiment. The falafel is indeed good but not spectacular. One day I went in and the cook gave a me a huge helping of free rice because he had accidentally made too much. That was great, but the rice was pretty boring. I always end up getting enough to eat, though that’s not usually a problem in these United States.

The decor would be pretty drab without the ragtag assortment of colorful blankets and rugs on the wall. They have a variety of seating and the space is never full at lunch during the week. Best of all, they rock the authentic Middle Eastern music in this place which is great, cuz I don’t need Steely Dan with my baba ganoush.

So I give Habashi house my whole hearted recommendation as a viable lunch place, but if you have any Persian friends in town, don’t expect them to be overly impressed.

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Habashi House on Urbanspoon