For a lover of Middle Eastern food, it doesn't get much better than Warren Avenue in Dearborn. This stretch of road has at least 10 restaurants and/or bakeries within a mile or two of each other.
Seems like Mid-East Eats can't get away from Warren: , , and now .
For those in the know, Tuhama's is a must-visit destination. Known for their sandwiches–more specifically, their chicken shawarma sandwiches–Tuhama's is more a carryout joint than a sit-down restaurant. With enough seats for about 20, it wouldn't take much for the space to become crowded. When I visited, most people carried out, but strangely, everyone who visited was male. I'm sure women eat Tuhama's, but just not on the nights I've been there.
There's no waiter service at Tuhama's. Orders are placed at the counter, prepared and picked up by the diner. Similar to a fast-food restaurant in that regard, the similarities to fast food stop there. Everything is fresh, made efficiently and served in a timely manner.
Ordering is simple. Nearly everything on the menu is served in sandwich form, either in a pita or on a sub roll. The full name of the restaurant is Tuhama's Gourmet Sandwiches, so their speciality is right there in the name.
To be fair, of course, it would not be enough to eat a couple sandwiches and call it a day. Other options are on the menu in the form of appetizers and side dishes.
The falafel plate is simply a dozen falafel on a bed of fresh parsley served with a side of pickled turnips, sliced tomato, more parsley and hot peppers. A perfectly cooked and texturally pleasing falafel is hard to find, but Tuhama's has one of the finest in the area. Crunchy, creamy, gently spiced and piping hot, it is everything falafel should be. With the fresh fixings on the side, a perfect sandwich is seconds away once you start piling everything into a pita.
Top it all off with some toum (garlic sauce) and a splash of Sriracha and you have a king's sandwich.
Hummus is boring if the flavors aren't spot-on. Luckily, Tuhama's make perfectly acceptable hummus. Thick–almost to the point of being paste-like–and pungent; lemon and garlic are definitely present as they should be. Tuhama's hummus is full-flavored and has a denser, less air-whipped consistency, making it ideal for dipping and spreading on pita before adding falafel.
Most times, french fries won't be revelatory and in this case, they're not. Sure, they are served hot, but lack seasoning. One of the more interesting menu items is a fries sandwich, which contains fries, garlic sauce and a couple other items. My advice would be to put the fries on a shawarma sandwich to add another dimension of texture.
Oddly, the most disappointing thing about Tuhama's is their sandwiches. While they aren't awful, they aren't amazing, either. Maybe it was an off night, but the chicken was dry and the kafta lacked the peppery punch many others in the area convey.
Each sandwich is pressed after it has been rolled. This creates a crusty outer layer of pita. A nice touch that has a practical purpose, too. By pressing the sandwich, it becomes more compact allowing for easier on-the-go eating. These sandwiches are street food, remember.
Dry chicken can be kicked up easily with enough toum, so this sandwich had that going for it. Essentially a garlic bomb, I would not recommend being in the immediate vicinity of anyone for a good 30 minutes after eating one of these.
Tuhama's fills a void in Dearborn. It's a place where you can run in, grab a sandwich and head on your way. The interior is hardly worth noting, and that's OK. Middle Eastern grub on the run–nothing wrong with that.