In front of my building there used to be a cafe I never went to. Even though the location was unbeatable, in the middle of Palermo a.k.a. the eye of the storm; it was just boring. One fine day they closed, and a bar opened in its place… only to suffer the same fate. You can imagine my reluctance when, one morning, I see a sign hanging from their door: “Shawarma… muy pronto”.
So, when Al Árabe opened, I was one of the first people to come sniffing around. Ran by a syrian family, the atmosphere is quite authentic and feels more like a corner spot in Almagro or Villa Crespo, rather than Plaza Serrano. A simple, slightly improvised lay-out, an Arabic cable channel in the background and a mesmerizing smell of meat: All the signs that give away a great shawarma joint.
Forget all about your bad shawarma experiences in Buenos Aires. This is where you’ll end up when you’re too lazy to Yelp or when you want to play it safe. I don’t know how they do it, but the meat is always intense, always has texture, always at the right temperature; the sauce is addictive with a garlic touch that’s really there, you know? But still in perfect harmony with the meat seasoning. After eating it, it will be hard to explain why you liked it so much, it’s more of an abstract satisfaction rather than a specific fixation. You might have some trouble convincing your friends to come and try it.
These wraps are just halfway between the “gourmet” shawarma served with the oh-so-trendy draft beer, and the other end: that small joint with questionable hygiene standards that’s the only thing open at 4am in the neighborhood. Price-wise? No rival in a 6-block radius.
A few months later, I moved away from that mystical corner. C’est la vie. But when I stumbled across it again and ended up having a shawarma mixto, inevitably drawn by that familiar smell, I was 100% convinced and ran home to write this. For you. So you never have to put up with a shitty -or worse, forgettable- shawarma ever again.