TEMPLE TERRACE – A new eatery in town features cuisine as diverse as the population that surrounds it. As anyone who visits Temple Terrace realizes quickly, the community is a melting pot of various cultures and religions, evident from the area’s assortment of places of worship and businesses.
Zaki on the River, 8416 N. 56th St., just north of the Hillsborough River adjacent to East Riverhills Drive, specializes in both Mediterranean and American cookery. It is open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Among the sizeable menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items visitors will find such favorites as bacon and eggs, Cuban sandwiches, wraps and subs. But what distinguishes them from most others is that they are pork free.
Its selection of side dishes include conventional French fries and potato salad. But the list also consists of stuffed grape leaves; kabouha, a type of winter squash; and babaganoush, mashed eggplant mixed with virgin olive oil and seasonings.
Owner Galal Abdelwahed , who prior to opening Zaki’s was the proprietor of four Florida deli shops, pointed out that his cousin and co-owner Diana Abdel prepares much of what the restaurant serves, including daily specials.
Abdel, a long-time caterer who has furnished food for functions serving more than 800 people, is positioned to provide such services for the asking at Zaki’s.
“Our goal here is to offer our customers a nice place to sit, relax and enjoy good tasty food with good customer service,” said Abdelwahed, as he looked out the restaurant’s panorama of windows facing the river’s edge.
Joshua Boyd, 21, of Temple Terrace, was enjoying a Cuban sandwich with his twin brother, Marcus. In the two days since the restaurant’s opening he’d been there twice.
“I love it here,” he said. “I like the food, the service and where it’s located,” he said.
“This is one of the best new places in Temple Terrace. It’s really nice,” he said.
Mohammed Ahateen, who owns a nearby car lot, stopped in with his buddy, Mahmoud Berjawi, who drove over from his home in Brandon. Both are of Middle Eastern descent.
As with Joshua Boyd, Ahateen had been there every day since the eatery’s opening.
“Yesterday I had shish-kabob with hummus,” he said, just prior to ordering molokhia, the day’s special he described as similar to spinach soup served over rice.
“It has all the traditional flavors and it’s very healthy,” Ahateen said.
In the meantime Berjawi continued to scroll through the menu, trying to make up his mind what to order.
“It all looks good,” he said.
The restaurant also has a drive-through window as an added service to its customers. Call (813) 985-1199 for more information.