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Lamb Burger w/ Feta Cheese, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Curry Mayo

Lamb Burger w/ Feta Cheese, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Curry Mayo

Burger Runner Up

  • Mediterranean Cruise Café | Burnsville, Minn.    
  • Twin Cities Division

the Dish:

One of the biggest draws at the Mediterranean Cruise Café is something that, perhaps not surprisingly, truly epitomizes the flavors of the Mediterranean: a lamb burger with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and curry mayo. Reminiscent of a kofta kabob, this burger combines lamb and beef with various spices and seasonings, mint, garlic, onions and Dijon mustard. It's topped with curry mayo, caramelized onions, house-made feta-mint yogurt, sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach. Cooked to medium rare, it's served with house-cut fries that get seasoned with cumin, lemon pepper and garlic salt and served with a Greek salad. It's truly a taste of the Mediterranean and patrons agrees that it satisfies the taste buds.

"Everyone loves burgers and this is an easy sell," Ansari said. "We serve so many and it's something unique."

the Restaurant:

Founded in 1979, Mediterranean Cruise Café was the brainchild of Jamal Ansari and his brothers, who moved from Jerusalem to the upper Midwest in 1976 with visions of starting their own business and the dream of bringing their culture to this side of the world.

"We grew up in a city with good people and good food from all over the world," Ansari said. "When we opened, it was meant to be a cruise around the Mediterranean from Morocco to Israel and Palestine to Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Italy. It's experiencing all the food from around the Mediterranean."

Looking at the menu, that becomes apparent very quickly. You have pasta from Italy, couscous from Morocco, spanakopita from Greece, falafel, shawarma and tabouli from the Middle East and, of course, plenty of seafood and lamb dishes.

As you walk into the sprawling 250-seat, 8000-square-foot restaurant, it feels as if you've entered into an Arabian palace with 24-foot-high ceilings, grand archways, glimmering tile work, medallions and vibrant colors. The intricate details help set the tone for the lively belly dancing shows that take place four nights a week as well as Salsa Saturdays, a weekly dance party that packs in the crowds.

Mediterranean Cruise Café offers lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch, all of which feature an elaborate buffet. And it's a great deal. It's all you can eat with about 30 different items laid out before you. "We have seven different salads, three rice, six meats, six pasta, fish and choices for soups and salad," Ansari boasted.

And Mediterranean Cruise Café offers Happy Hour twice a day for its customers: from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. It's a great tactic to get people to come in later and enjoy the bar scene. Guests can get $6 bar food like two fish or gyros tacos or a pocket gyro with Greek salad; half off larger plates like coconut shrimp, steak hummos or chicken kabob; and $5 signature cocktails, tall beers and wine.

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