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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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In Dining

A falafel sandwich at Mona's will set you back a mere $2.99.

In Dining

The starters include Turkish motabel ($3.20), a smoky, pureed eggplant dish that Dakak says is the original baba ghanouj.

Mona's dishes authentic Turkish cuisine


Farwell Avenue's ethnic dining landscape expanded at the start of the new year, with the opening of Mona's Turkish Shawerma House, 1814 N. Farwell Ave. The small dine-in and carry-out restaurant adds to the diverse row of restaurants along the 1800 block, including Ethiopian Cottage Restaurant, Chopstix Chinese Restaurant and EE Sane Thai Cuisine.

Originally from Syria, owner Wahid Dakak is half Turkish and is striving to make Mona's an authentic option for Milwaukeeans.

For instance, he serves several chicken dishes like doner ($6.95), sliced to order off the rotisserie; brochette tauwok ($6.95), marinated chicken with grilled tomato and onion and his signature boneless, skinless grilled chicken ($7.95). Dakak says his is the only Turkish restaurant in the Midwest to offer chicken, as lamb and beef are the standards.

"People don't taste Turkey's original dishes in most American restaurants. What I make is original," says Dakak, who worked as a chef at the Astor Hotel for nine years prior to branching out on his own culinary adventure.

"I love this city and I want to give the people something different."

Mona's menu is split evenly between appetizers, sandwiches and entrees. The starters include motabel ($3.20), a smoky, pureed eggplant dish that Dakak says is the original baba ghanouj. It doesn't include tahini like the Istanbul variety, which is more widely available. There's also hummus ($3.10), tabuli ($3.29) and lettuce salad ($3.10).

The sandwiches range from doner with your choice of bread ($4.05) to beef shish kabobs with veggies in a pita ($4.20) to the very affordable Turkish falafel pita ($2.99).

The entrees favor savory, marinated meats, grilled vegetables and Turkish rice. The restaurant's signature whipped garlic sauce is a tangy accompaniment to most dishes. Other available sauces include tahini, a red pepper and mayonnaise combo and olive oil with lemon juice.

Everything is made freshly to order from Dakak's own recipes. "This is not fast food," he warns. Still, food arrives promptly, making it an easy option for a work day lunch or a late-night pit stop. Mona's is open from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon until midnight on Sunday. Downtown and East Side delivery service is available for an extra $1.95.

Although Mona's serves soft drinks, try your Turkish fare with the region's traditional tea $1.35), a strong black tea served with sugar. The fruit juices -- mango, guava and tamarind -- give you a large glassful for only $1.75.

Side orders include falafel for 50 cents a piece as well as French fries, but before loading up on extras, sure to save room for dessert; the baklava is just 99 cents a slice and is just one of several homemade authentic Turkish sweets.


Talkbacks

kmmh87 | Nov. 17, 2009 at 4:39 p.m. (report)

This place is excellent. The food is fantastic and the prices are more than affordable. You can't get a better deal anywhere else around here.

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HeritageSpringer | Jan. 27, 2009 at 12:29 p.m. (report)

I ordered take out from here a few weeks ago and was very pleased with the meal. The spices are great.

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Red_5 | Jan. 27, 2009 at 12:23 p.m. (report)

I have been to this place twice since it has opened. A great idea, simple menu, friendly service, and affordable prices. It is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood and I hope they do well for years to come. The food is excellent. It is refreshing to see someone with an understanding of what it will take to be successful in these awful financial times. The location is in a hot spot of other unique food concepts and shops. The place is small so the rent, labor, and utilities will be affordable and the menu is simple which will allow the owner to keep the food costs in line. Best of luck to this guy! Keep up the good work!

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funhouse | Jan. 27, 2009 at 12:21 p.m. (report)

I've had takeout from here several times now, and the food is very good. The food is consistent and is made pretty quickly. While waiting for your food, try a Turkish coffee!

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RJ | Jan. 27, 2009 at 12:01 p.m. (report)

This place sounds great, I'm looking forward to trying it.

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