Part of a restaurant’s appeal is its ability to transport. Dishes are legacies that trace back to places both intimate and general. For a brief moment, a bite of something in an obscure strip mall can serve as a round trip ticket to somewhere else. And, if the food in question is particularly good, sometimes the diner can’t wait to go back for more. That sentiment accurately describes Al Basha Mediterranean Restaurant & Grocery.
As far as buildings go, Al Basha is forgettable. The restaurant sits back off of Allisonville road, a few miles east of the 465 interchange. The strip mall it’s located in is neither prominent nor ostentatious, and there are none of the outside decorations that normally adorn other ethnic food joints. In other words, Al Basha is the kind of place that feels like a well-kept secret. That feeling persists when you enter.
The interior is multi-purpose, but not in a sense that feels too busy; about a third of the building is dedicated to a Mediterranean market. If Indy natives want to do some real Turkish, Greek, or Arabic home cooking, a trip to the Al Basha grocery will be more than worth it. Immediately adjacent the grocery is the restaurant with little to no barrier between the two. The result is a space that feels warm and inviting, more like a large pantry in a home than a strip mall in Fishers. It’s abundantly clear that this shop is a cultural touchstone. Hijab-clad women, with children in tow, stroll in, make light conversation, shop, and leave whilst other customers enjoy their meals. Paired with the fully operating hookah and shisha bar, it’s hard not to think of Al Basha like a mini-bazaar in the heart of Anatolia.
So Al Basha definitely delivers in atmosphere… But how is the food? Luckily, the menu is up to par. This writer highly suggests going all out, with an appetizer, entrée, dessert, and finally finishing up with Arabic coffee or Turkish tea. Even if this ends up being too much food, order it and be sure to take it home because this cuisine is hard to come by. The baba ghanouj and pita bread appetizer is smoky and creamy, with bright notes of lemon juice and fresh parsley. Order the spicy gyros because the tangy tzatziki sauce cuts the heat in a unique way. Finally, treat yourself to the flaky and sweet baklava. It’s worth it to eat baklava done right, especially if that means avoiding layering the finicky phyllo dough yourself. The honey might make your fingers sticky, but that won’t matter once you’ve drifted off into a sugary, sweet coma.
Of course, the rest of the menu contains other Mediterranean favorites, but there is a strong Arabic and Turkish influence, making this place a gem in the Fishers area. By all means go for the food, but if you’re looking for a restaurant that’s firmly grounded in a community with strong roots, Al Basha Mediterranean Restaurant and Grocery is the place to go. Forget that it’s in a strip mall. Forget that the food might be less familiar than other ethnic foods like sushi or Indian. Go to Al Basha and be transported to the Levant.
Al Basha Mediterranean Restaurant & Grocery
11321 Village Sq Ln
Fishers, IN 46038
Phone: (317) 578-0040
Written by: Brian Banta