I had dinner at Taboon Mediterranean for the first time in Bixby Knolls last week. As someone who grew up with two Lebanese parents and a lot of home-cooked meals, eating out at Middle Eastern restaurants can be very hit or miss—but Taboon didn’t disappoint.
While I wish I had the stomach capacity to try everything on the menu, of the appetizer platter and entree I had, the star of the meal was the dill rice. It’s a dish that’s more often seen in Persian cooking than Middle Eastern—and Taboon’s was addictive.
Even if you think you don’t like dill as an herb, the aromatic it adds to the rice is subtle because it’s cooked in with the dish, not used fresh as a garnish, which tends to have a stronger taste.
Dill is often paired with fish and sometimes in a tuna salad, but at Taboon, the fluffy green rice was the pillow to rest grilled meat skewers on.
While the dill rice was a standout, it was just one piece of a much bigger meal. I went for a cold mezza platter as my appetizer, which came with baba ghanouj, hummus, a lightly dressed simple salad and pickled vegetables with olives. It’s accompanied by a basket of warm pita.
Baba ghanouj has a roasted eggplant base and hummus is made from ground chickpeas, but both are traditionally mixed with garlic, salt, lemon and tahini (sesame paste). Sometimes hummus will also have cumin. Both are ideal accompaniments for that warm pita.
The pickled vegetables, meanwhile, are best saved to eat with a meat-heavy entrée to give your palate a punch of sourness in between bites of meat and rice.
If you’re looking for something a little more hearty and savory in your starter, the hot mezza platter comes with falafel (vegan, deep-fried, spiced ground chickpeas or beans), two stuffed fried pastries (cheese and meat), and fried cauliflower drizzled with a tahini-based sauce.
For the entrée, I went with the Taboon Mix Grill, which gives a skewer of the kefta kabab (ground meat with onions and spices), lamb kabab, and chicken kabab. You get a choice of how your lamb skewer is cooked, and the platter comes with toum (garlic spread), hummus, a simple salad, roasted onions and tomato, and the dill rice. I should’ve read the menu a little more carefully because I ended up with a lot of hummus, although I’m not complaining.
I skipped dessert on this occasion, but I had my eye on the rice pudding. Middle Eastern rice pudding is similar to tapioca pudding, if you know you like that. Taboon’s rice pudding is spiced with cinnamon, vanilla and sugar and topped with pistachios.
If it’s possible you’ve had too many kababs, something I plan on trying next time I go is the kefta casserole in tahini sauce. It comes in tomato sauce too, but I love the sour, nutty flavor of a good tahini sauce. The kefta is put in a dish with some potatoes and drenched in the sauce before being baked in the oven and served over rice.
The restaurant has a decent-sized patio decorated with lights and greenery and the servers are quick and attentive. It closes relatively early, at 8 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Taboon Mediterranean is located at 539 E. Bixby Road.
Have you been to Taboon? Is there another spot I should try? Send me your favorite dishes and places around town—to help me figure out where I should go next—at [email protected].