Jacksonville needs more Middle Eastern restaurants or maybe The Casbah just needs to open up a location a bit closer to my place because if it weren't for the distance I'd frequent this place on a regular basis.
Elements of Middle Eastern cuisine have made their way into Western foods with many restaurants using hummus and tabouleh in selected menu items or offering pita bread as an alternative to sandwich bread. Unfortunately the influence doesn't go much further so I find it's a treat to visit a restaurant serving authentic Middle Eastern food items. I had to make a tough decision between the strange and unique or a familiar favorite so, being that it my first visit and I wanted my critique to be uninfluenced by unknowns, I opted for the tried-and-true shwarma platter rather than explore uncharted territory with the swordfish kebabs. I was not disappointed with my choice as the shwarma (marinated lamb served with salad, humus, and pita bread) was tasty, filling, and on par with the best of my past experiences with the dish.
In addition to being a restaurant, The Casbah serves as a bar, cafe, and hookah lounge. The dim lights and foreign decor make for a nice place to retreat for a pint of beer or a cup of coffee. Happy Hour is 3-7pm everyday with $2.50 draft beer (and they have a good selection, I really enjoyed the Rogue Dead Guy I ordered), $2 bottles, $3 house wine, and half price hookahs. I don't smoke but everybody else I was with seemed to be enjoying sucking down their flavored tobacco. Being a raging coffee addict I ordered a Yemen mocha and finished off the night with some Turkish coffee. The Yemen mocha wasn't too impressive but I love a good Turkish coffee and would make my own if I didn't fear for the safety of my stomach lining.
Another one of The Casbah's many unique offerings is, according to their website, Jacksonville's only dinner cabaret with belly dancing performances every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. So if the great selection of food, beer, coffee, and tobacco aren't enough to persuade you to go, perhaps the belly dancers will change your mind. With so much to offer, I know I'll find myself back at The Casbah... no doubt double fisting a pint of Dead Guy and a pot of Turkish coffee... and hopefully taking some better pictures.
3628 Saint Johns Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32205