Rami’s: Exceptional Israeli Cuisine

Brookline is a town that knows what it likes. Restaurants with good food win loyal regulars in a flash; those with not-so-good food usually end up relocating. So when you find a restaurant that has flourished in Coolidge Corner since 1990, with only a few tables and a very unremarkable exterior, you can be sure that it’s doing something right.

At , the cuisine is Sephardic Israeli, and the menu is exactly what you might expect: hummus, falafel, Israeli salad, beef kebabs, and the grilled eggplant spread baba ganoush. There’s chicken grilled with onions, and turkey shawarma—marinated meat layered onto a spit and slow-cooked, rotisserie-style.

But within the expected comes the unexpected—the tastes and textures that whisper, this is how I’m really supposed to taste. The hummus is velvety, nutty, and heavy on the tahini. It’s made fresh, in-house, three times each day. The falafel are golden orbs of ground chickpeas and spice, deep-fried for a crisp crust, but fork one open and the interior will steam with moisture. The delicate little morsels of baklava gleam with honey and nuts. The Israeli salad is a beautiful jumble of color, the cucumbers, red cabbage, and tomatoes, shining under a layer of tart, spicy pickles and tahini dressing.

Pita sandwiches are a favorite, and a bargain here. The Hummus Falafel in Pita ($7.95) is a pleasure to bite into: under the soft, chewy pita lie those savory balls of falafel and fresh, crispy salad. A touch of housemade hot sauce will blaze a layer of fire inside your pita.

All the meat at Rami’s—even the hamburgers, which, yes, you can order in a pita—is Glatt Kosher, for which a rabbi declares the meat acceptable under a very strict standard of Jewish dietary laws. The grilled chicken is tender, flavored by a succulent marinade sunk deep into the meat. Hefty beef kebabs, called yerushalmi, are seasoned with garlic and parsley, give an almost startling reminder of the taste of “real” beef. Turkey shawarma is peppery, with subtle sweetness. For a sampling of your favorites, try the Rami’s Special for $16.95, and savor the platter of beef kebabs, falafel balls, grilled chicken, hummus, and salad.

Bourekas ($2.75 each), the Sephardic version of the little filled pastry called borek in Turkey, come stuffed with potato, spinach, or mushroom fillings. A bite into a spinach Boureka revealed the tang of cooked spinach, cozily enveloped in flaky pastry.

Those who can’t wait until their next trip to Coolidge Corner can buy Rami’s hummus, tahini, and baba ganoush by the pound to tide themselves over. Others will pick up the phone and dial the restaurant’s irresistible choice of phone number (617-FALAFEL) for a take-out order. Brookline knows what it likes, and as the waves of loyal customers fiercely insist, Brookline does love Rami’s.

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