Kabobi (Eden Prairie, MN)
It's lunchtime on Wednesday, and we're sitting at Kabobi. We're enjoying wonderful kabobs fresh off the grill, perfectly grilled sweet corn, and a delicious chopped vegetable salad. Our meals arrived less than six minutes after we placed our order. Outside, the national chain restaurants overflow with hungry Eden Prairie officeworkers: Chipotle, Culver's, Ruby Tuesday. We look around at the half-empty Kabobi dining room and think: "Man, have we got news for you."
Kabobi's menu, and set-up, is simple. Go straight to the counter on the right and order. You can have a kabob sandwich with beef, chicken, or lamb. Whichever you choose, the seasoned meat comes with tomatoes, onions, cucumber and a creamy herb sauce, all in a piece of Middle Eastern flatbread. If you like gyros sandwiches, you're going to love this, and if you've never tried any such thing, we invite you to discover how good they are.
Alternatively, order the shish kabob plate, with chicken, shrimp, beef filet, or grilled vegetables. You'll also get a choice of saffron-flavored basmati rice or warm flatbread; we think the rice is better.
That's it: two different entrees. Simple but delicious.
You can augment your meal with a variety of side dishes, but check to see what comes with your entree first. The grilled tomato is not overcooked, and already comes with the kabob plate. The Persian pickles are a little spicy; you get a couple with the sandwich. We liked the sweet corn on the cob, and the Kabobi salad of tomato, cucumber, and onion in a tangy vinaigrette dressing. This is easily big enough to share, although you can get a smaller portion for half price if you purchase a shish kabob.
For dessert, we recommend the baklava. They also have cream puffs: vanilla cream inside and chocolate sauce on top.
Unlike traditional fast-food restaurants, Kabobi serves beer and wine. We think a glass of wine at lunch is ideal, though your employer might have a more abstemious outlook.
They also have two brands of those suddenly trendy "adult" sodas: Airforce Nutrisoda and GUS carbonated drinks. GUS ("Grown-Up Soda") calls itself not too sweet, and it isn't. We liked the ginger, though we prefer a much stronger ginger taste.
Kabobi effortlessly combines the best parts of a sit-down restaurant with the best parts of a fast food restaurant. You get real silverware, real linen napkins, your food served on a real plate that a waiter brings to your table, and there's a self-service pop machine with free refills. And you don't have to clear your table.
And what does it cost to add real plates and cloth napkins and service that doesn't involve eating off trays and throwing away the garbage? As little as a dollar more than the burrito you can buy next door. Civilization is just not that expensive, and here, it's also delicious.
13250 Technology Drive, Eden Prairie
Phone: (952) 937-1414
Atmosphere: Clean and nice
Service: Fast and friendly
Sound level: Moderate, even when crowded
Recommended dishes: Shish kabobs and Kabobi sandwiches
Prices: $6.50 for the sandwiches, $7–$10 for the plates
Children: No special children's menu