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Moroccan, Egyptian heritage fuel tasty fare at Mina Restaurant

The Moroccan Lamb Tagine slow-roasted lamb shank tomasaffrsauce served with minrice seasonal vegetables is plated MinRestaurant Mount Prospect. The restaurant

The Moroccan Lamb Tagine, a slow-roasted lamb shank in a tomato saffron sauce served with mina rice and seasonal vegetables, is plated at Mina Restaurant in Mount Prospect. The restaurant, featuring Mediterranean and Egyptian cuisine, is the subject of a review photographed on Thursday, January 19, 2012. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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1724 W. Golf Rd.,
Mount Prospect

(847) 364-9400;

Hours: Monday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 1-9 p.m. Sunday.

Prices: Appetizers, $4-$10; entrees, $11-$18; dessert, $2-$4.

Try: falafel, Moroccan lamb shank tagine, Mina platter

Wheels: Free parking, handicapped accessible.

Tips: Reservations accepted. Full bar service, but limited wine selections. Daily lunch specials. Carry-out. Delivery. Catering. Semi-private space for large groups.

In a bite: Looking for chicken shawarma, falafel or baba ghanouj in the northwest suburbs? Mina Restaurant in Mount Prospect offers decent versions of all three — and a lot more Mediterranean dishes, including selected Egyptian and Moroccan specialties.

KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary; ★★★Excellent;
★★Very Good; ★Good;
Zero stars: Poor

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Updated: February 1, 2012 5:36PM

Family-run Mina Restaurant brings a broad mix of Mediterranean fare to northwest suburbia with a menu that reflects its owners’ Egyptian and Moroccan roots.

The 1½-year-old white-linen tablecloth establishment is roomy and appealingly decorated.

Mina is tucked in Mount Prospect Commons shopping center and occupies space where the now-defunct Via Mia once held court. It offers guests a gustatory mix of Middle Eastern tastes — all at moderate prices, with entrees going for $11-$18.

Standards were well represented among the appetizers included hummus, baba ghanouj (smoked eggplant mixed with garlic, tahini and lemon), lebna (yogurt topped with olive oil and mint and served with pita bread) and vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions of dolma (stuffed grape leaves).

We shared a tasty order of falafel. Crisp on the outside and soft within, the five nicely seasoned fried patties incorporated chickpeas, onion, parsley and garlic. Chopped lettuce and tomatoes worked well as a garnish, and warm pita accompanied.

My entree, a delectable Moroccan lamb tagine, featured a lamb shank whose slow roasting in a tomato-saffron sauce rendered the meat juicy and fork-tender. The dish was plated with rice and a medley of carrots, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower.

The Mina platter, chosen by my dining partner, offered a panoramic sampling of the kitchen’s versatility. The dish consisted of chicken and beef kabobs, beef shawarma and kifta kabob (a blend of ground beef and lamb) — all accompanied by rice, grilled green peppers and tomato and a creamy dipping sauce.

Among other main-course options were baby lamb chops with couscous, Egyptian eggplant, a mixed grill with chicken and beef kabobs and shrimp and sea scallops. An Italian pasta entree, Chicken Penne Alfredo, also made an appearance.

Mina serves a heady Turkish coffee that goes well with baklava, the only dessert on offer during our visit. The dense pastry was made with layers of phyllo filled with chopped walnuts and sweetened with honey syrup.

Arriving early on a recent Saturday night, we found the restaurant just starting to fill in. Service was superb and our waitress, who also occasionally slipped behind the bar to pour wine or mix cocktails, was conversant with the menu and willing to answer questions about the food and its preparation.

Thomas Witom is a local free-lance writer.

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