Get an up-close look at the 2017 Beautiful Bulldog Contest held on Sunday, April 23, 2017, in the Knapp Center.


Like most students at Drake University, over the course of my fours years there, I became familiar with the neighborhood dining establishments. 

I ate a lot of waffle fry nachos from Jethro's. When my family was in town, breakfast at the Drake Diner was a must. And I consumed way too many late-night orders of breadsticks from Paul Revere's. 

But there's one restaurant I didn't visit until after graduation, and its a choice I sorely regret: Gazali's.

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The cozy spot serving up Mediterranean eats has been a mainstay in the Drake neighborhood long before I arrived on campus, but somehow I never made a stop.

Gazali's is now a favorite of my regular dining partner (also a Drake graduate) and mine when we want quick and filling lunch that is full of flavor.

All of the Greek and Mediterranean favorites, including falafel, gyro, baba ganoush, grape leaves, are on the menu, plus there are a few more specialties. Here you order at the counter, and it's usually the owner, M.J. Gazali, who brings out your meal a few minutes later.

We usually start with an order of hummus and pita. The hummus tastes fresh and comes drizzled with oil and a dash of paprika. Sometimes a bonus order of the soft pita is necessary to ensure you can enjoy every last scoop of the chickpea and tahini dip.

His regular order? The spicy garlic chicken shawarma. The pita bread makes another appearance here to hold in the moist chicken, fresh veggies and mouthwatering garlic and chili sauces. Yes, this sandwich is messy. But it is totally worth it. If there is any leftover pita from the aforementioned appetizer, I use it to soak up the spicy chicken drippings for myself.

On our most recent visit, I tried the classic gyro wrap, chock-full of tender lamb strips sliced fresh off the spit. The crunchy vegetables combined with the creamy tzatziki sauce makes for a nice melding of textures. Some of Gazali's specialties, like the falafel and gyro, are also available in salad form for an easier eating experience.

We're usually left stuffed, but on previous visits we've made room for baklava before we leave — a sweet and sticky way to end such a satisfying meal. Don't make the same mistake I made and wait four years before you treat yourself to lunch or dinner at Gazali's.


Find it: 1205 25th St., Des Moines

Hours:  11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

More info: 515-309-9167 or find it on Facebook



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