Garbanzo Restaurant Brings Fresh Mediterranean Food to Phoenix

Fast-casual chain makes its debut in the Valley

By Patricia Escarcega,

Phoenix is no slouch when it comes to great Mediterranean food. When you're craving handmade falafels, kabobs and Greek salads, the 'Valley of the Sun' has lots of good options. But a new restaurant is shaking up the way Phoenix diners enjoy Mediterranean food.

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, a Denver-based fast-casual chain, has opened its first location in Phoenix at Desert Ridge Marketplace. The restaurant's approach to Mediterranean food is different from the typical sit-down restaurant. Garbanzo is modeled after restaurants like Chipotle and Subway, where diners pick from a selection of fresh ingredients and watch as their meal is assembled by the kitchen staff before their eyes.

Fresh, made-to-order Mediterranean food is the main attraction at Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill in Phoenix — Photo courtesy of Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill

In fact, part of the fun of eating at Garbanzo is the option to build your own entree. Start with your choice of a whole wheat or white pita, laffa (a leavened flat bread used widely in Mediterranean cuisine) or a plate with pita bread on the side.

Then, choose a protein. Options include all-natural chicken shwarma, chicken falarma (a tasty mix of chicken and falafel), steak shwarma, falafel and portobello mushroom. Next, select your choice of add-ons, which include grilled eggplant, feta cheese, hard-boiled egg and hummus.

If building your own entree isn't your thing, you can order from the Classic Creations menu. It features traditional Mediterranean dishes like Greek salad, falafels and kabobs.

The kabob platter is one of the restaurant's most popular items. It comes with two skewers of red and green peppers, onion and your choice of chicken or steak. The skewers are marinated in the house marinade (made with fresh rosemary) and then grilled to order. These traditional grilled meats come served on a bed of rice and paired with the house hummus and a vegetable salad.

Garbanzo also has a small menu of sides, including dolmas, falafel balls, chips, Mediterranean lentils, roasted eggplant and lemon chicken and orzo pasta. The family-friendly eatery doesn't serve alcohol, but it does have an assortment of specialty iced teas and lemonades.

When you need to feed a big group in a hurry, opt for the Kabob Box. It includes eight skewers, rice, one pint of hummus, one pint of vegetable salad and five pitas.

Garbanzo hopes to appeal to health-conscious diners craving fresh food that doesn't sacrifice flavor. Calorie counts are clearly listed beside each menu item.

Although Garbanzo is a newcomer to the Phoenix restaurant scene, this restaurant chain is already planning to open a second Phoenix location sometime in spring 2014. That's good news for lovers of fresh Mediterranean food.