Atmosphere: Dingy diner.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. to midnight; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price range: Dinner entrees, $3.50 to $6.99; hamburgers, pizzas, submarine sandwiches, 99 cents to $3.50.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Credit cards: MasterCard and VISA
Special facilities: Not easily accessible to patrons in wheelchairs; onstreet parking and space for four or five cars in area next to restaurant; booster seats.
Hungry Majid is new, but it's not your cute, California, cheap-chic eatery. It is a bargain basement and looks it: a long luncheon counter runs the length of one of the two small rooms that comprise the restaurant. The menu is plastered on makeshift signs behind the counter. In the second room, which has tables, lively travel posters of Greece and Morocco brighten the otherwise dingy atmosphere. But the Middle Eastern food -- its preparation, price and the size of each portion -- more than makes up for the surroundings.
In addition to the usual submarine sandwiches, pizzas and hamburgers you'd expect at a place that looked more like a diner than a restaurant, Hungry Majid offers exotica such as kibbeh (deep-fried patties of ground meat, cracked wheat, onions, nuts and spices, $3.99), souvlaki (marinated meat served with feta cheese, $4.99) and tabbouleh (a salad of cracked wheat, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber and parsley, $2.25).
Our meal did not get off to a blazing start, however. It was an unusually warm night, and we were thirsty. The lemonade we ordered was warm and weak. We switched to grape juice that was swishing around in a machine. It, too, was warm and weak -- more water than grape. We then moved on to water, which couldn't be weak. It was only warm.
Our only other complaint concerned the pizza. Our son volunteered to try the "diner" side of the menu and was stuck with a small, plain pizza, $2.50, that looked and tasted as though it had just come from a supermarket freezer. Everything else was superb.
All dinner entrees are accompanied by pita bread and tabbuleh or hommos -- pureed chick peas with sesame seed sauce, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. We had one of each plus a Lebanese salad, $2.25. The hommos was smooth without being oily. The loaves of pita bread, which are wonderful for scooping up hommos, were warm and fresh.
Many of the Middle Eastern main courses at Hungrey Majid come in two sizes: dinner and sandwich. Our daughter had the dinner-size kifta kebab, $4.99 (sandwich size, $2.90). Delightfully spicy, very well-ground meatballs had been crisply fried and were served with a spicy tomato sauce. We all pitched in to help her out, since there was no way she could finish it all.
Grape leaves, $3.99, were tightly packed with a meat and rice stuffing that was more rice than meat, but the seasoning was refreshingly mellow and mild.
The gyro and fallafel combination dinner, $4.99, featured strips of spiced pressed lamb and beef, plus patties of pureed chick peas, fava beans and parsley that were smooth inside, crunchy crisp outside and deceptively seasoned -- the patties tasted like a mild curry at first, then came on strong.
The desserts looked less than exciting. Whipped cream and cake concoctions that looked store-bought sat in a glass case on a counter. The menu mentioned baklawa, $1, so we tried some. It was soft and flaky, oozing with nuts and honey, and had just the right tast to end a spicy Middle Eastern meal.
Our bill for dinner for four came to $23.46 including tax and the wishy-washy beverages.