But the owners at WOW Egyptian Fast Food have done some remodeling, and have turned this former taco joint into a family restaurant, serving the dishes they remember from back home. One of the biggest differences is that rather than use chickpeas for their falafel, like most of the Middle East, they rely instead on fava beans.
"We are the only ones in the state of Illinois that I know of that make it from fava bean. Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis all make if from chickpeas. So we're 100% fava bean," said co-owner Maryann Tadros.
The favas aren't the only departure. With respect to that falafel, they also use fresh dill and cilantro, plus garlic, onions and a couple of dried spices, such as cumin and cayenne. Cooked favas are also used to make a traditional sandwich.
"Foul moudamas sandwich is fava beans that are cooked with some tomatoes, onions, parsley and then it's put into two halves a pita bread," Tadros said.
Shawarma is fairly traditional, in the sense that they make the vertical cones each day. In the case of the beef - which is layered with lamb fat - it's sliced off and then cooked on a hot griddle to-order. Like most entrees, it comes with a steaming mound of yellow rice and a crunchy side of cucumbers, along with some sesame-rich tahini sauce or hummus. Vegetarian sides are also available, like fried cauliflower or eggplant.. And desserts are simple.
"Basbousa is a semolina flour that's made into a cake. It's not too sweet, not too bland, just very tasty," she said.
Instead of a soda, try one of their homemade juice drinks, like a semi-tart hibiscus, or a fruit cocktail.
"Fachtfahina is a fruit juice cocktail and it's made fresh everyday. We make it from mango juice then typically banana that we puree and then strawberries that we puree and then we put chunks of fruit on the top and on the inside," said Tadros.
So the interesting thing about WOW is that they're not on 63rd Street, they're not up in Albany Park, and yet they're committed to recreating those authentic flavors from Egypt.
Wow Egyptian Fast Food
105 Stark Dr., Carol Stream