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Best Middle Eastern Food: Tastiest simulacrum of Israel 

Holy Land

Depending on when you show up, the Elmwood outpost of the falafel microchain wears the slightly disheveled look of a place well loved. Plates sometimes stack up on the tables, and the tape holding years of early press raves to the front windows has lost some of its stickum. But Holy Land's Israeli-style pitas still have the power to stick — they're as filling and bright-tasting as ever. Falafel are spectacularly creamy, with the deliciously musky warmth of legumes. They're jimmied into their bread pockets along with drizzly tahini and vegetal fixings that include pickled cabbage, stained pink with what may be beet juice. Seared turkey shawerma hums with garlic and cumin, and the baba ghanoush balances a deep smokiness with the brightness of lemon. But the brightest taste here comes in a cup of fresh lemonade blended with mint leaves. Pale green and frothy, it has a perfume that evokes incense — perfect for a place called Holy Land.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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