Mediterranean Imports and Deli
Every Tuesday for the last five years, we’ve had a standing lunch date. While we love to explore new places around town before having to hurry back to our regular workday, many times we can’t help but end up at one of our old favorites, Mediterranean Deli. Nestled somewhat unassumingly just off May Avenue for the past thirty-something years, Mediterranean Imports and Deli is a true Oklahoma gem with a long list of loyal and devoted customers and an owner, Atif Asal, who is as passionate about his food as he is knowledgeable and ready to help. Not only is it one of our favorite weekday lunch spots in town, but we’ve also been known to spend many a Saturday afternoon wandering the aisles of their market, always finding some new, incredible ingredient to inspire our dinner for the evening.
On a typical Saturday afternoon we usually start with lunch because if you’re already there you simply cannot pass up one of their delicious, made-with-love meals. Each person in our family has favorites that are impossible to stray from. Tricia always gets the Vegetarian Platter, brimming full of house-made stuffed cabbage rolls, hummus, brightly flavored tabbouleh, lentil-rice pilaf and falafel. Chris’s favorite is the Combination Platter, which includes perfectly seasoned gyro meat, Greek salad, and a delicately crisp fried spinach pie. Benny, our six-year-old son, always goes for a simple side of pita and hummus, cleaning the plate as he goes. The menu also includes plenty of other Mediterranean specialties—a daily soup that’s never a miss, sandwiches and a specials board that changes daily with dishes representing different regions of the Mediterranean.
After enjoying lunch we usually start our trip through the market. By the time we grab our basket, Benny is usually asking for his favorite treat, dried apricots, so we head on to the aisle full of their packaged dried fruits, nuts and spices. Bags full of fragrant dried dill and honey-dipped mangoes practically beg to be dropped into our basket as well. From there we head to look through their beautiful selection of breads, lingering as we try to decide which one we will take home today. From traditional pitas to flatbreads nearly four feet long (our favorite for making pizza for a crowd), the choice is never easy. If you’re lucky, you can get there in time to snag one of their locally made flatbreads rolled out into gorgeous papery thin layers before they’re gone.
By then something from their specialty produce section has usually caught our eye, so we will wander over to explore. Although small, usually just a few boxes on a simple metal rack, their selection always boasts of interesting and many times unfamiliar goods that you just can’t help but pick up and smell or give a little squeeze. After we finish there, we will usually toss a gorgeous brick of their imported chocolate into the basket along with our very favorite Italian spaghetti, beautifully wrapped in deep blue paper and head to the refrigerated section for a tub of their homemade hummus. We always stick around there for a bit, oohing and ahhing over their beautiful bricks of lardo with rosemary, smoked and cured beef, an assortment of shelled nuts and lots of other treasures.
Next we head to the counter for one of the best olive and cheese selections in the city. There are bins of imported olives to suit every palate. We rarely leave without a bag in hand. The deli counter has a huge variety of cheeses, as well as cured meats like prosciutto and salami, often in varieties that you can’t find anywhere else in town. Be sure to get some of their feta (sitting over to the side near the register) but good luck deciding between the French (our enduring favorite), Bulgarian or Greek. Luckily they are kind enough to slice you off a sample if you need help making up your mind.
Usually by this time our basket is heavy and full of incredible food so we check out, feeling inspired and ready for all of the delicious meals we know will come out of our trip. While you’re there, don’t worry about grabbing everything at once—after your first visit, you will definitely be back.
You can find Mediterranean Imports & Deli at 5620 N May Ave in Oklahoma City