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Anatolia brings Mediterranean to Little Rock

Submitted by Jacob Ellerbee on January 16, 2014 – 2:12 pmOne Comment

Mediterranean restaurants have rapidly gained popularity in Central Arkansas in the past few years. Little Rock sports several popular Mediterranean hotspots: Layla’s, Istanbul, and two Taziki’s locations. In August of 2013, Anatolia arrived on the scene and opened its charming doors to Little Rock’s emerging Mediterranean scene.

I arrived at Anatolia during the typical “lunch rush.” There was only one other customer waiting, money in hand, for a to-go order. The Anatolia server greeted me immediately and let me pick out my own table. The size of the menu was impressive, considering the actual size of the restaurant: small but cozy. The interior of the restaurant had green walls and an orange accent wall.

The appetizers were generously priced, some ranging from $4 to $5. That price is almost impossible to beat. For my appetizer, I ordered the dolmas—seasoned rice encapsulated in grape leaves.  The dolmas were warm and filled my sinus cavity with one thought – olive oil. The leaves tasted ever so slightly of pickles, granted the grape vine leaves are indeed pickled. I couldn’t imagine taking a more condensed bite of Mediterranean food if I tried. In stark contrast in flavor and consistency to the dolmas were the falafel. The falafel was crispy and flavorful, the way any good fried food should be. Any self-proclaimed carnivore would balk at how satisfying this vegetarian dish is.

Most of the entrées were priced somewhere around $11. The chicken doner, or gyro, was my entrée of choice. It was more food than I should have been able to eat, but I like challenges, and cleaned my plate. For around $12, my plate arrived with a large serving of roasted, well-seasoned chicken, gobs of perfectly cooked rice, a slice of tomato, two pickle slices, a wedge of cooked green pepper, and–my favorite part of the whole meal–tzatziki sauce. No other tzatziki sauce that I’ve ever had has compared to it. I will be going back to Anatolia, and I will be eating more of that tzatziki sauce in the near future.

Chilled to the bone on this icy day, the lentil soup warmed me from the inside out. Steaming with warmth, the soup was mildly spicy. The soup had a nice balance of frothy lentils. Squirt a little bit of the juice from the lemon wedge that the soup is served with, and you’re set.

What’s more is that this vegetarian-friendly restaurant gives student discounts (with a valid student ID).

With that being said, I don’t think the student body needs any more incentive to give Anatolia a try.

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