Yafo Kitchen is one of our all-time favorite spots for a quick dinner or low-key grab and go meal. Their hummus bowls are mouth-watering, while the rest of its “Mediterranean meets Middle Eastern” menu is equally as addictive.
Situated in the heart of Southpark, this fast-casual eatery has become a Charlotte staple for locals and visitors alike. Folded into freshly-baked laffah or eaten straight-up with a fork, Yafo’s mezze is nothing short of excellent. I recently brought my Foodesign team with me to sit down and discuss the inspiration behind their eclectic menu with chef and co-owner, Shai Fargain.
Beets with Goat Cheese, Pistachios + Mint Vinaigrette
Fargain grew up in the Middle East, but often visited family in the United States when he had availability. Therefore, his menu reflects recipes from his adolescent travels by mixing Middle Eastern flavors of garlic, olive oil, lemon and mint with American classics like rotisserie chicken and macaroni and cheese. Everything on the menu is made in-house from scratch, masterfully prepared and served with a side of love. The hummus itself is a three-day process… and I may go as far as saying that Yafo serves (by a long shot) the best hummus in all of Charlotte. If it were up to me, I’d nominate Fargain’s hummus as the best in the nation. It’s THAT good, go try it and you’ll be hooked.
Sinfully delicious Macaroni & Cheese
In addition to a well-thought menu, Fargain offers three signature sauces that will have you dreaming about falafels at 3am. Especially for a condiment-enthusiest, like myself.
- Schug: a traditional Middle Eastern hot sauce that I wish was sold by the bottle. I’d add it to everything at my house.
- Habanero Hot Sauce: if you’re looking for a spicy kick, look no further. Fargain isn’t messing around with this condiment, it is SPICY (and equally delicious).
- Tzatziki: a cool, yogurt-based sauce that is ideal for grilled meats and makes a fantastic dip with laffah.
Speaking of laffah, here’s Fargain’s recipe below for those of you who would like to try and make it at home. (YES!!!)
- 620 g. Flour + more for the table
- 20 g. Salt
- 10 g. Instant Yeast
- 37 g. Sugar
- 150 g. Extra Virgin Olive Oil + more for the bowl
- 400 g. Water
Here’s a nifty calculator if you want to convert grams to other measurements (like cups, tbsp. etc).
- Form the dough: Mix all ingredients in a mixer, using the paddle attachment. Mix for 1 minute on low speed, 1 minute on medium speed and 20 seconds on high speed.
- Let rise: Place in a well-oiled bowl. Fold three times and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Divide and more rest: Divide into 10 equal-sized balls. Roll them for a minute and let rest for an additional 20 minutes.
- Cook: Using a rolling pin, roll into 1/8 inch flats. Grill on high heat (700F) for 1 minute on each side.
Just when you thought that this eatery couldn’t get any better, Fargain makes a Cucumber-Lime-Mint Juice that will knock your tastebuds into the next dimension.
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Photos featured in this post were also used in a review I wrote for Scoop Charlotte earlier this year.