Arabian Nights at Med Cuisine

Rayan and Ahmed

As Arab guys residing in Tucson, we often crave places that remind us of our home. One day, while looking through Yelp reviews, we came across Med Cuisine, a Mediterranean restaurant with the Lebanese flag as its emblem. We were thrilled the moment we saw it that and decided to go try it out. It did not disappoint!

Our First Visit

When we arrived, the first thing we noticed was the building’s old-school Arabic style. From the old-styled couches and rugs of the main area to the wall featuring with photographs of scenes from Amman, Dubai, Riyadh, Beirut, and Cairo. In the background, Arabic music was playing, notably Maloun Abou L Echeq by Najwa Karam.

The waiter, Omar, greeted us and escorted us to our seats. We sat at a high booth table with crimson sofas and chairs along the wall with the Arabic cities. The menu Omar gave us was two pages long, and it included everything from falafel and shawarma to Arabic tea and Baklava. Of course, we wanted to order some of everything.

We finally decided on two iced teas and the gigantic mixed grill that included char-grilled tenderloin, chicken tawouk, lamb kebab, chicken kebab, veggies, pickles, pita bread, garlic sauce, tahini, and rice. The platter was large enough for both of us and exceeded our wildest expectations. Everything, starting from the meat and ending with the rice, made us feel like we were having this meal at home with Mom and Dad.

The Patio Area

After we finished our food, we decided to get another table in the outside area because the weather was nice. Omar gave us the drinks and the hookahs menu. Looking over the menu, we saw all the different drinks and different flavors of hookah. The menu consisted of a diverse collection of sodas, teas, coffees, juices, and alcoholic beverages.

The hookahs menu did not disappoint either. They offer a wide variety of flavors, ranging from blueberry mint, two apples, watermelon, and many others. We ordered a blueberry mint hookah. Each inhale filled out mouths with sweetness and light. With the soft music playing in the background as the sun slowly set, the moment was perfect. Again, just like being at home.

Saturday Night

During our first visit Omar told us that Med Cuisine holds an ultimate Middle-Eastern-themed night every few Saturdays, always featuring live Arabic music. It’s like spending a night in out in Dubai, Cairo, or Beirut with customers dancing, smoking hookah, and eating Arabic food.

Needless to say, we reserved a table for one of those Saturday nights. We arrived at 9 PM and the evening’s festivities were just beginning. Basel Eid, Med Cuisine’s leading performer — whom we had never heard of before — performed Arabic songs (like Al Ein Mowaleyten, a song sung at Arabic weddings) near the bar with his guitar and microphone in his hands.

This time our table was right next to the one we had last time, and we sank into the comfortable crimson chairs. Omar got us the drinks and the hookahs menu again. Again, it took us a long time to decide what to get from all the different choices we were presented with. Finally, we settled on getting a blueberry mint hookah, two apples hookah, and two iced teas for both of us.

The Party Begins!

As the night went on, more people started coming, and the place got packed. At first, we were overwhelmed by the number of people there, but as soon as the music got louder, we merged with the singing crowd. Suddenly, everybody started to sing with Basel, so we sang with him too. The fun atmosphere was very reminiscent of our home culture.

After some time of singing, the table on our left decided to dance dabke, a traditional Arabic dance in the free space in the middle of the restaurant. The dabke is a series of specific leg movements that, with multiple people, produces a rhythmic pattern of the participants descending and a series of knocking sounds from the heels tapping on the floor. The sound of the heels tapping invoked a feeling of euphoria. Coupled with loud music playing, the knocking sound and the atmosphere only makes you want to join them.

The Night Draws To an End

What happened next truly brought a whole new level to the restaurant. The artist started handing the microphone to the ladies who attended the event. Surprised by the song that was playing, Gana El Hawa, we couldn’t help but reminisce about our home countries. The atmosphere perfectly replicated the Arabic feeling.

On our way home, we couldn’t help but praise Med Cuisine for how well it captured the spirit of the Arabic nightlife. Again, this experience exceeded our expectations. This place is a gem. It gave us a peek at home and offers non-Arab customers a unique window to part Arab culture. For us, though, it was a night of being at home even though we’re thousands of miles away from that happy location.


Rayan Elnewehy is an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona majoring in Engineering Management. Ahmed Abu Daqeh is an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona majoring in Finance.