Mawadda Cafe's menu covers all the Middle-Eastern bases: The bustling restaurant serves gyros, falafel, kufta and kebabs. But no matter which dish you choose, you'll get your fill of garlic, which owner Rami Al-Jebori applies with the enthusiasm of a guy whose family has a farm in Gilroy.
The best match for Al-Jebori's piercing garlic sauce is a roughly-seasoned chicken shawarma, tender and juicy when it's peeled from the grill. Made from richly flavorful dark meat, the shawarma is edged with crispy bits that recall the dish's open-flame heritage. There's bound to be extra sauce, so French fries make a fine accompaniment. So does rice.
It's perhaps perverse to seek out Middle Eastern food in Seattle, where the Arab-American community numbers fewer than 10,000 people. Surely local eaters would be better off slurping pho or snacking on injera. Yet Mawadda's shawarma suggests even a restaurant without much intra-cuisine competition can get it exactly right.