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Open Sesame to the Delights of Lebanese Cuisine in Des Moines
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Open Sesame to the Delights of Lebanese Cuisine in Des Moines

Just down the hill from the State Capitol Building in the heart of the East Village of Des Moines, is a small restaurant that’s big on taste and hospitality.

Mario Ghazali serves up traditional Lebanese meals like his mother taught him. Quick lunches and delightful dinners, set in a relaxing atmosphere that seems to pull you out of the business world into a foreign retreat.

Having sat at the tables a couple of times already, I asked for a recommendation that would be tasty and look good for a picture. Jamie, Mario’s partner, recommended several options from which I chose the vegetarian sampler. I’m not a vegetarian, but it tasted fantastic. Hummus, baba ganouj (roasted eggplant), tabouli (fresh parsley salad), grape leaves stuffed with rice and garbanzo beans, falafel, and pita.

And you’ve got to try one of the rose water drinks. I had the rose water lemonade, which added to the relaxed feeling. The scent of roses brings back so many memories of beautiful summer days.

If you’re thinking that his name sounds familiar, Mario started Ghazali’s next door to the Varsity Theater near Drake University. While Ghazali’s specializes in Mediterranean gyros, Mario’s emphasis at Open Sesame is Lebanese.

Looking forward, Mario is planning to add some fusion-food to the menu and while I was there, the architect met with Mario to discuss plans for a patio on the east side of the restaurant to open Spring 2017. They’re excited about the possibilities that this expansion will bring. Not just more space, but more options for live music and other events.

Open Sesame is located at 313 E Locust and they are open for lunch from 11-2 and for dinner from 5:30-9. They don’t currently have a website, but you can find them on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Todd Daily

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