Cedar Park - Leander | November 2020

HALAL: DENOTINGORRELATING TOMEAT PREPAREDAS PRESCRIBEDBYMUSLIMLAW.

DINING FEATURE

Courtney and Alaa Bataineh opened Leyla’s Mediterranean Cafe in December 2019. (Photos by Sally Grace Holtgrieve/Community Impact Newspaper)

All of the meat at Leyla’s is halal.

Leyla’sMediterranean Cafe Cedar Park restaurant serves up high-quality, aordable meals D espite having spent a lifetime in the restau- rant industry, launching his own eatery was a big jump, Alaa Bataineh said. place. Bataineh had his eye on the Leyla’s location for several years, so he was thrilled, he said, when it came on the market and a sale was worked out. “We had just opened, and then, the pandemic BY SALLY GRACE HOLTGRIEVE

Luckily, Leyla’s Mediterranean Cafe was an instant hit when it opened last December. Gyro plates and wraps are the top sellers, Bataineh said, followed by the falafel plate. “A lot of people use canned powders, but we use legitimate garbanzo beans that we soak and grind in-house,” Bataineh said of the falafel, adding that the hummus is made from scratch, too. The rice, like many of the menu items, is made with Bataineh’s own secret recipe. Along with using fresh ingredients, his precise spice mixtures are what make the dishes so great, he said. The majority of spices are imported from the Middle East. Bataineh moved to Germany in 2000. He found a job as a dishwasher at 14 and eventually worked his way up to sous chef of a large restaurant in downtown Berlin. In 2005, he moved to Austin to help manage restaurants owned by family members in the area. “I’ve always had a passion for food,” he said. “I watched my mom cook and learned family recipes. I love feeding people—I love making people happy.” Bataineh also worked as a busboy at Kasbah Moroccan Lounge, a hookah bar in Austin. Then, he became the manager, and eventually, he bought the

came, and I was really fearful,” he said. “But we had lots of takeout and curbside pickup orders, and we appreciate that the community kept us busy.” The restaurant is open for dine-in service again, and Bataineh and his wife, Courtney, said it has been successful enough that they are already considering opening additional locations. “We’re looking to expand seriously, but cautiously,” he said. The fact there are options for everyone makes Leyla’s accessible to the entire community, Courtney said. Along with beef, lamb and chicken halal dishes, there are numerous vegetarian, vegan and keto diet- friendly options. “One person can get true, authentic Mediterranean cuisine, while another could get salad, soup, a fried chicken wrap or a Philly cheesesteak,” she said. The Batainehs said they do hope people unfamiliar with Mediterranean menu items will come learn about the food. “When we opened the place, we thought about families like ours in Cedar Park and wanted to oer family style meals that would provide enough good, fresh food aordably,” Bataineh said.

The popular “specialty over rice” dish is topped with creamy jalapeño sauce.

Leyla’sMediterranean Cafe 401 Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park 512-456-7574 www.leylasmediterraneancafecp.com Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily

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