Sabra US Map & Phone & Address

45 Union St. Newton; (617) 964-9275

The spelling Newton Centre should tell you already that this is not the sort of neighborhood in which Mine often hangs out. Yet, among the snooty shops across from the Green Line station, this Middle Eastern restaurant combines inexpensive cuisine with refined surroundings.

The menu is a pedigree of Israeli, Lebanese, Greek, and Armenian dishes; unlike their homelands, these all co-exist quite peacefully. Try a bowl of lamb curry soup ($3.25) to lead off with a bit of spice. The Mazah Plate ($13.95) is a sort of Mediterranean pu-pu platter for two, with Armenian salad, baba ganoush, hummus, falafel, spanakopita (spinach cheese pie), and meatless grape leaves.

Many dinners are priced under $10, all served with rice pilaf and a big salad. Mine enjoyed the goulash ($8.95), chunks of beef cooked with carrots and string beans. Vegetarian dishes are even lower: You may find unusual specials, like Pumpkin Kib-bee, a mixture of bulgar wheat, mashed pumpkin, and onions, fried into cakes and served over rice.

But the true bargains are the sandwich versions of the entrees. For just $4.95, the chicken kebab sandwich is a two-hands-on affair of tasty, hot chicken in tahini sauce, stuffed into a pita pocket with chopped vegetables. Be warned, though, these are messy and fun.

Finish your dinner with one of several liqueur-coffee drinks: Sabra (of course), Sambuca, Kahlua, and more.

The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting, with exposed brick walls and potted plants everywhere. There is also a cozy, full bar in a separate room. All this, and friendly service, makes Sabra a nice choice for an inexpensive date that definitely won’t feel cheap. Open til 10 p.m. daily.

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