On the last evening of Yom Kippur, the holy Jewish holiday, our family dined for the first time at Ann Arbor’s only Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-influenced Mexican restaurant, El Limon Mexican Mediterranean Restaurant.
El Limon is located at 2709 Plymouth Road and has been open for about a year.
According to some, the derivation of the word “lemon” may be originally from the Middle East. The English word “lemon” is purportedly derived from the Old French word “limon” which in turn comes from the Italian word “limone,” which is derived from the Arabic “lymun” and also from the Persian “limun.”
It is the most appropriate name for this restaurant because of the complexity and variety of flavors in the dishes which bridge the gap from Persian to Middle Eastern to European and now Mexican fare.
There is definitely a Middle Eastern influence with items like grape leaves, falafel tacos, spinach feta quesadillas, and fattosh salad on the menu. The Lebanese garlic sauce “Tourm” is also prevalent.
All three dishes we ordered joyfully celebrate both Mexican and Mediterranean elements.
Upon our arrival, a friendly, helpful and cordial man behind the counter greeted us. He said the most popular dishes were the bowls, but some other items also caught our eye and pleased our palate as well.
We ordered Jalapeño Garlic Wings, a Steak Quesadilla, a Chicken Shawarma Burrito and a Chicken Kabob Bowl. Strong garlic flavors were prevalent in many of the dishes, as is common with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. The juxtaposition of ingredients was also original. For instance, one can get a burrito either filled with Spanish or cilantro lime rice, but it is also filled with beans, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, pickles, sour cream and shredded cheese.
The chicken shwarma burrito has almost a citrusy flavor, and again both Mediterranean and Mexican flavors.
The bowl was perhaps the most artfully arranged and highest quality, so we could now see why the bowls are reportedly so popular. Even though the one we ordered had “kabob” in the name, there was no skewer, but they possessed perfectly seared pieces that retained their juiciness. The pinto beans that accompanied the ensemble were wonderful in their simplicity. Some tortilla chips joined the plate as well. Tourm was served on the side with this dish as well.
The wings came with a side of tourm and also contained various flavors. We were glad to see that the steak quesadilla was not stingy on the meat or cheese.
We also greatly enjoyed the drinks. The mint lemonade was bursting with fresh flavor and the strawberry and mango smoothie has a tropical taste to it.
The service was impeccable. The nice gentleman who had warmly greeted us kept checking on us to see if we needed anything, and filling our water. He brought directly to the table the needed silverware as well as to-go boxes for our ample leftovers.
A band played at the back of the restaurant and we faintly recognized a Simon and Garfunkel song as well as other heartfelt ballads. The man behind the counter said they had bands playing there every Monday and Thursday evening. Art on the wall included romantic Mexican landscapes and artifacts. The dining experience definitely made us re-examine our culinary tastes.