A new Middle-Eastern spot has opened in the tippy-top part of North Dallas, with a unique combination of market and restaurant in one place. Called Mediterranea Market & Grill, it's in the same center as French restaurant Lavendou, at 19009 Preston Rd., where it takes over the space once occupied by Jack Mac's Swill & Grill, which closed in late 2018.
Owner Salah Nimer has owned and operated a number of restaurants previously, including Tiramisu, an Italian restaurant that was in the same location prior to Jack Mac's.
"I've been doing this for a long time and have earned excellent reviews, and wanted to bring something like this to that area," Nimer says.
By "something like this," he means a combination of a specialty market with more than a thousand items, and a small restaurant with Middle-Eastern food and more.
"It's two totally separate concepts, with a hallway in between," he says. "There's a small restaurant on one side and a market on the other, but with specialty items you won't find at your Kroger or other market."
We're talking packaged dry goods, imported nuts, figs, oils, snacks, canned beans, and ingredients unique to the cuisine. There are also fresh foods including Halal meats.
"One of our standouts is our selection of cheeses, we have all types of cheeses, including varieties like halumi that are hard to find," Nimer says. "Some of our items you might find at another specialty store or at Central Market, but we have 1,200 to 1,300 specialty products in one place."
He's also invested a lot of money and energy into the atmosphere, going for an upscale feeling with hardwood floors and neatly organized shelves, rather than the unadorned hodgepodge that many ethnic markets seem to embrace.
"We spend nearly three months cleaning the place up — the last owner of Jack Mac's had really let it go," Nimer says.
The restaurant side is cozy with one long counter and about a half dozen tables.
"Our main focus is carry-out," he says. "We're doing chicken kebabs, falafel sandwiches, and other Middle Eastern dishes the way my mother would. But this is Mediterranean, so we're also doing Italian items like lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, calzones, and pizza. We even do a few American dishes like a rib eye steak sandwich and a hamburger, because there are always people who are going to want a hamburger."