PALOS HILLS, Ill. (WLS) --There are plenty of Middle Eastern joints in Palos Hills and Bridgeview, but nothing quite like Al-Sufara Grills, which sits almost hidden in the middle of a strip mall.
"What makes this place unique is its Middle Eastern street food at its best. All fresh, made from scratch," said Amer Abdullah, one of the many family members from Al-Sufara.
And it begins with fresh lamb - their specialty - butchered on site, then broken down further, to make an assortment of grilled items, all over hardwood, oak charcoal.
"We're talking kebabs, we're talking shawarma, we're talking hummus, falafel, things like that," he said.
Also an impressive assortment of dips and spreads like hummus and baba gannoush two ways. They marinate chicken overnight, then stack it high every day onto long metal spits, ultimately slow cooking over charcoals for about 12 hours. Same goes for the lamb shawarma, which is either done on the spit or hand-formed into kefta kebabs over the skewers, the places directly over the coals.
Everything is done by hand here, and orders come a couple of ways. Once the shawarma is sliced, you can get it rolled up in lavash with tahini. But then they griddle the outside, and once crisp, slice into wedges, serving it with fries, pickles and olives.
Or, go for a platter, supported by rice of course, then layered with kebabs of all kinds, as well as griddled vegetables and sumac-laced onions.
Even the lavash is charred a bit over the fire, before capping off the hearty platter.
Abdullah said they try to maintain all of their traditions from old country, which means very few time-savers when it comes to cooking the shawarma.
"It is not an electronic machine, so we kind of manage everything by hand the old way," said Abdullah.
The mall that Al-Sufara is in is a little hard to find - right at the corner of 103rd and Harlem. But make your way there, and you'll be rewarded with an unbelievably delicious spread.
In this week's Extra Course, ABC7 food reporter Steve Dolinsky talked about the restaurant's two different styles of baba gannoush, a traditional eggplant spread.
7215 W 103rd St., Palos Hills