Warm & Welcoming

Middle Eastern cuisine shines at Fulton Avenue restaurant

By Greg Sabin
March 2024

Basha Taste of Jerusalem is a vibrant example of Palestinian cuisine. Marrying flavors of the Middle East and Mediterranean, the Fulton Avenue restaurant delivers punchy spices and expert cooking from the Levant. It’s dished out with warm and welcoming service.

When I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, Fulton Avenue cuisine was burgers, pizza and cheesesteaks. Tiny’s Drive-In and The Buggy Whip spoke with meat and potatoes and cooking from another era.

Now, Fulton Avenue draws from around the world. The street features foods from Southeast Asia, India, Latin America and especially the Middle East.

Restaurant owners from Persia, Afghanistan, Morocco and Lebanon put a cultural spin on their homeland’s food while designing menus for American palates.

Among these expressions of Middle Eastern cooking, Taste of Jerusalem is a gem. The food is stellar, the white-tablecloth atmosphere refined.

From the busy avenue and petite parking lot, a broad, heavy wooden door leads to an airy, happy interior. White walls and deep blues of the Mediterranean envelop guests. Murals cover the walls. Plush fabrics soften every sound.

Two dining rooms offer plenty of space for parties of two or 22. On a rainy weekday night, the restaurant was busy but calm. A peek at owner Mohamad Abboushi’s social media shows Taste of Jerusalem is perfect for a wedding, retirement party or other celebration. They know how to party.

Not expecting guests well-versed in Palestinian cuisine, servers at Taste of Jerusalem are welcoming and full of advice. I felt cared for at my visits.

The menu is extensive, reflecting the bounty of the Mediterranean. Fish and shrimp preside alongside lamb and beef. Chicken is the star in several traditional preparations, including Maqluba. This crowd pleaser is a pot of stewed chicken, rice and fried vegetables cooked and flipped onto a platter in a delightful structure of deliciousness.

One of my favorite foods, lamb shank, is prepared with a slow simmer. Meat falls from the bone. A generous, citrusy helping of sumac brings the dish to life.

A whole roasted sea bass nearly overwhelms. Served with pickles and relishes, lemon wedges and rice, it’s a huge dish that works.

Simpler, more American-focused dishes can be found for a lighter lunch or less formal meal. A well-seasoned kufta burger or lamb kebab wrap with fries make for a solid midday meal.

Every meal is accompanied by a basket of “Jerusalem bread.” The flatbread, baked fresh on hot stones every day, is an expression of traditional Palestinian baking and worth the trip by itself.

One surprise is a simple dessert called warbat. Think of a large baklava stuffed with sweet cheese. It’s the flaky, crispy, soft, sweet, chewy dessert you might have skipped. Trust me, you should try it.

I’ve eaten at many casual kabob and pita places in Arden-Arcade and arrived at Taste of Jerusalem with modest expectations. I was wrong. The food was wonderful, and I was delighted by the warm atmosphere and kind service. I hope to return often.

Basha Taste of Jerusalem is at 1833 Fulton Ave.; (916) 486-1944; bashasacramento.com.

Greg Sabin can be reached at saceats@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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