Azkadenya is a portmanteau of the words azka meaning "delicious" and denya meaning "world," a mezza diner serving sharing plates with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences.
The chain originating in Jordan in 2011 has branches across the Middle East, and this is their first ever location in North America.
The colourful space seating 70 explodes with retro-themed pop art emblematic of the Middle East, featuring vintage ads for perfume, drinks, convertibles and cologne, as well as portraits of old Syrian and Egyptian actors and singers.
A mixed mezza sampler for $14.99 shows off signature dips made from scratch here, including tabbouleh, hummus, baba ganouj, beet tahini and walnut muhummara.
Served with stretchy house pita, I’m especially partial to the silky hummus and spicy, nutty muhummara.
House pita topped with sesame seeds is made from scratch and baked in an open kitchen in full view of the dining area using a Malagutti pizza oven that most closely imitates traditional ovens.
Falafel sliders come in an order of three for $8.49, a vegetarian twist on your typical slider with pickles, tomato, yogurt tahini and mint. The large falafel are crunchy outside and soft inside with a slightly warm, almost sweet seasoning.
Chicken "tableside" shawarma ($12.99) is unlike any other shawarma I've seen, technically more DIY than tableside as you remove the meat from a skewer yourself.
The meat is extremely tender thanks to being marinated overnight, cooked over a grill.
It slides off the skewer very easily, and from there can be assembled into your own wraps using provided accoutrements.
The Med Veg platter ($12.99) is totally vegan, falafel, fattoush, hummus, pita, and their "Tomato Sizzler" of roasted tomato, onion and almond gathered together for a filling plate.
Other "Sizzlers" include beef tenderloin, chili shrimp and garlic chicken, typically accompanied by mushroom and onion. These dishes are inspired by Bedouin-style meals cooked in woks over live fires in the desert.
A Mix Grill platter ($19.99) allows for sampling hearty beef tenderloin, shish tawook and lamb kebab skewers, with fries, hummus and salad on the side, all plated on a large house saj flatbread.
You can also build your own platter starting at $12.99 with falafel for the protein, with a choice of rice, salad, bread or freekeh for the base and two sides.
For dessert, there are Kunafa Pops ($6.99) which are basically bite-size versions of kunafa pies, a type of Middle Eastern dessert made from pastry and stretchy, salty cheese soaked in lots of sweet syrup.
Azkadenya aims to offer a full range of service from breakfast to dinner, and also offers grab-and-go items like pre-packaged tubs of dip and salad.