Escape the ordinary!
One of the best things about being a guide for the EatingRehoboth.com food tours is hearing peoples’ reactions when we walk into certain restaurants. We try to keep the itinerary a surprise (part of the fun!), and I enjoy overhearing candid impressions when we make a sharp right or left into our next destination.
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The tour lineup is a mix of fine-dining and upscale casual places, and one of the most consistent reactions I get in the casual category is when we walk into Semra’s Mediterranean Grill on Rehoboth Avenue. It’s amazing what foods people will routinely dismiss as out-of-hand that don’t resemble hamburger, a slice of pizza or a cheesesteak. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those things!) “Oh, we’ve walked by here a million times – but never went in!”
Or, “Isn’t this food really spicy?” Or worse yet, “I don’t know anything about this food.” What exciting lives some people lead. (And I mean that in the most loving way.)
After the tours, our guests flood Facebook and our website with their reactions, and those nervous people from the previous paragraph suddenly can’t stop praising Turkish cuisine. Most Middle-Eastern cooking is actually quite mild, with overtones of lemon, perhaps a little garlic, mildly spiced vegetables and lean meats.
In fact, Semra Tekmen, the owner, makes everything right there in the restaurant. As is typical with many ethnic foods, she learned her style of cooking from her mother and grandmother. So the cool tzatziki that graces their fresh-off-the-rotisserie gyros is made with her homemade yogurt. The savory, not-too-sweet marinara that tops the traditional İskender platter is whipped up from scratch right there on the premises. And so on and so on.
Our tour guests love the little “mezze” (a variety of appetizers) that Semra often prepares for them.
People who had previously strolled by without a second look are now enthusiastically dipping warm pita bread into smooth and nutty hummus, the lemony and slightly garlicky babaghanouj, and a refreshingly bright bean salad that makes ‘em smile every time. Sixteen shiny, empty plates are all that remain as we depart for our next culinary adventure.
I’m not sure if I wrote this to encourage people to think – and eat – out of the box when planning their next meal, or to tout Semra Tekmen’s cooking. But the result is the same: You’re at the beach! Try something different.