11379 Montgomery Road, Symmes Twp. 513-469-0089 www.miragemedrestaurant.com
Simple yet delightful, Mirage Mediterranean is one of those places you find occasionally and think, "I can't believe it's in a strip mall."
If you don't know where it is, you might not ever find it without knowing it's at Harper's Station sandwiched between a BW3 and a Great Clips.
Once you find your way, you'll discover a great Mediterranean restaurant that's easy on your wallet and big on leftovers.
The decor is simple: Though the space is small and casual, tables are topped with tablecloths, making it feel more upscale. The kitchen is slightly hidden in the back by a sliding door, and a register sits up front.
But it's Mirage's plentiful portions, budget prices and good food that make it noteworthy.
On weekends, the spot fills up with families, groups of friends enjoying plates of food and glasses of wine, and couples having dinner before a night out.
Mirage doesn't have a liquor license, so do bring a bottle from home or your favorite wine shop.
The eggplant paste appetizer is a good option for starters, but an even better, spicier option is the red pepper paste. Good on heat but not burn-your-mouth hot, the red pepper paste dipped in pita is a great complement to hummus. When ordered together, the hummus and red pepper paste make for a creamy and spicy Mediterranean appetizer.
The food is fairly straightforward at Mirage: chicken, beef and lamb kababs as well as lentil soup and gyros grace the menu, and each entree comes with a choice of rice, French fries, soup and salad or Russian potatoes.
And there lies one of the surprises on the menu at Mirage: Russian potatoes. Another surprise is the barbecued fish dish. With so much variety, there are plenty of alternatives for less adventurous diners.
Each entree also comes with a shepherd's salad - a delicious mix of cucumbers, tomatoes and green peppers tossed with parsley and dressing.
The best part of all of this, in addition to flavorful chicken kebabs, steak kebabs and well-prepared appetizers, are the prices at Mirage. Most entrees fall under $12 and there will be plenty to take home.
HOURS: Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
APPETIZER: Baba ghanouj - roasted eggplant mixed with garlic, sesame oil and lemon juice ($3.99)
KABABS: Lamb ($10.99) chicken ($8.99) and beef lula ($8.99)
BARBECUE: Salmon barbecue ($12.99)
VEGETARIAN: Falafel plate ($6.99) and roasted vegetables mix ($5.99)
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