It never ceases to amaze me how many delicious little restaurants are dotted around this city, simply tucked away into dark corners of shopping malls. Through word of mouth, I heard about Mandaloun Mediterranean Cuisine in the Deerwood Village Shopping Center. What a find! The location has been around for a couple of years, but with the crowd they generate on a Saturday night you would think this place has been a neighborhood staple for decades.
Mandaloun serves up classic Mediterranean / Middle Eastern dishes with a Lebanese flair. The menu is filled with classic Kabobs and Lebanese treats that are sure to please any diner. To most the difference is subtle, but if you frequently gorge on good Homous, Tabouleh, Lamb, or Falafel like some of us at Examiner, you'll notice the slight differences in spice and flavor right away.
Some dishes of note? The Kafta at Mandaloun is arguably the best in Jacksonville. It is moist, tender, and flavorful - pretty much what lambs are striving to be in their next life. They serve the ground lamb mixture in Kabob form in a variety of different dishes, along side your choice of a cucumber and tomato salad or rice for around $14. This is the kind of dish you'll dream about at night. Mandaloun also serves fantastic Sambousek ($7). These little meat pies are wonderful, stuffed with ground beef and pine nuts and are full of flavor. One other outstanding item on the menu is Mandaloun's Lebanese Coffee ($2). Though it comes both sweetened and unsweetened, to truly experience it you must drink it sweet. It is thick and strong, dark, lightly sweetened, and absolutely amazing.
Overall, dining at Mandaloun is a wonderful experience. They have a tendency to get busy on the weekends, but if you are a smoker or interested in hookah the outdoor seating area is simply marvelous. They pipe out music and it takes on the air of a busy market with people milling about everywhere and enjoying their dining experience. Sampling multiple dishes at Mandaloun can be a bit pricey, but discount certificates are available from both Restaurant.com and ActiveDiner.com. They are certainly a Jacksonville City Secret that should be tried! Mandaloun is located at:
9862 Old Baymeadows Road
Jacksonville, FL 32256-8101