The $10 Challenge: Little Jerusalem

A couple of weeks ago, I detailed how I conduct the $10 Challenge and asked for suggestions for places to try for the feature. The response was great, so I will feature reader-submitted restaurants for the next couple of Challenges.

This week, reader Tara sent a nice e-mail in which she recommended Little Jerusalem, a Middle Eastern eatery near the south end of Louisville.

Little Jerusalem opened in October 2009, but has since gained a good reputation (according to a few friends and online reviews). The restaurant is right off the Watterson Expressway at Taylor Boulevard, a perfect location if you want to buy some take-out and rush home like I did on the day of my visit.

Photos of dishes on the menu greet customers before you even walk through the door.

Look in the window. The pictures are better than previews for a movie.

The photos continue inside, which makes it great for diners who like to order dishes based on how it looks. The pictures also enable you to just point and say, “I would like whatever that is. Please and thank you.”

The menu is divided into four major categories: salads (all $4.95), light meals (all $5.95), entrees and sandwiches. Unfortunately, I hadn’t brushed up on my glossary of Middle Eastern dishes, so I didn’t know what some of the menu offerings were. But a handy to-go menu filled in the blanks. For example, there was kibbeh (a light meal of cracked wheat filled with meat and deep fried), mujadara (an entree of lentils, rice, salad and yogurt for $6.95) and foul (a light meal of fava beans with lemon spices).

I visited Little Jerusalem in the middle of a dinner hours, so I began to panic when a steady trickle of people began forming a line behind me as I was deciding between the combination mixed grill (three skewers of meat for $9.95, the most expensive item on the menu) and hummus with shwarma ($5.95). Not wanting to hold up the line in the small restaurant, I went with none of the above and ordered a lamb gyro ($4.95 for just the sandwich, $7.95 for the entree that comes with rice, salad and grilled veggies).

There was a bit of miscommunication between me and the friendly gentleman taking my order (I put the blame on my panic), and I ended up ordering just the gyro instead of the entree. No worries, though. The gyro was packed with a pile of lamb meat, lettuce, tomatoes, a yogurt-based sauce and a salad of mainly cucumbers. And the cook prepares the meal in a small kitchen with a glass partition that allows eaters to watch the entire cooking and assembly process.

I ordered an additional two gyros for my dad (he adores that dish) and took my bag home. Though my parents’ house is only five minutes away, the sandwiches began to cool by the time I made it into the house.

Excuse the blurriness. I was too hungry to focus properly.

Other than the temperature, the tightly packed gyro was delicious. The first bite was full of a medley of textures — the tender shreds of lamb, the crunchy bits of fresh cucumbers, the smooth layer of sauce holding it all together. The mild sauce helped balance the richness of the meat’s savory spices.

My dad (who paid for his own meal) thought his gyro was good, but said his sauce was sparse and the meat was a bit greasy. Had he come along with me, Papa Bear could have requested more sauce, because the cook assembles the gyros Subway-style (the toppings are in view of the customer, so you decide what you want). And I hate to disagree with Papa Bear, but I didn’t think the meat was greasy at all.

Papa Bear’s eyes were bigger than his stomach, so he gave me his second gyro. I kept it in he refrigerator until lunch the next day, when I pleased to find out that the flavors did a mind-meld overnight and were more pronounced than the day before. Plus, the lamb was delicious when it was as cold as the other toppings on the gyros.

After my first experience at Little Jerusalem, I am eager to return in order to make my way through more of the very inexpensive menu. But I will study the menu ahead of time to avoid last-minute decisions and get more food for my $10.

The Stats:

  • Little Jerusalem, 3825 Taylor Boulevard, Louisville, Ky.
  • Gyro sandwich: $4.95
  • Total (with tax and tip): $6

Mission: Accomplished

One thought on “The $10 Challenge: Little Jerusalem

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