okgourmet.com    Home of Steve's Restaurant Reviews

Zam Zam Restaurant Dining & Houka

3913 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK   Warr Acres
(405) 789-8008

Zam Zam Restaurant Dining & Houka

It seems that even though numerous Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants have opened in Oklahoma City, each is unique enough to offer reasons to go there instead of the other alternatives. Zam Zam Mediterranean Grill and Houka gives customer plenty of reasons to visit, and I think is one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in town. As I have said in other reviews, though, it is a hard choice because so far all of them have been good.

Zam Zam is one of the most casual places I have visited, with the building looking as if it is a converted fast food restaurant. When I visited in 2011 the inside had been remodeled, but it was still far from elegant.

The large outdoor patio (that contains more tables than the indoor dining room) is set up for hookah smoking and seems to be crowded almost all the time. Whether it is hookah smoke or regular cigarette smoke, though, I always find the smell of it getting into the dining room through the door that opens to the patio. After three visits my experience is that there is not a suitable place for non-smokers to dine indoors, and this is unfortunate because the restaurant has better than average Middle Eastern food. I would consider take-out a good option, though.

Zam Zam does not try to offer food from all over the Mediterranean world, as some restaurants do, but is limited to what the owners know and can do well. I have tried a veggie sampler plate and a meat combination order, and these two plates cover a good portion of the items offered on the menu. Like all the other Middle Eastern restaurants I have tried in the city, the meat plate was better, but the veggie plate had a better flavor and more good items than has been the case at several other restaurants. I really do not think customers can go wrong with either.

Combination dinner
Combination dinner with kufta and chicken skewers

Kufta is ground beef with spices that tasted somewhat like the most flavorful hamburger I have ever eaten. It is not quite correct to call it a hamburger, though, because it was missing most of the grease and fat usually found in regular burgers. Traditional Middle Eastern butchers follow practices similar to the kosher shops in Israel to provide the best quality meat possible, and such seems to be the case here.

Like the beef, the Chicken was cooked on a skewer and then served on pita bread. Even though the chicken was as good as the beef, I think there are a number of places in the city with equally good chicken, making it less noteworthy than the beef.

Veggie plate
Veggie plate with tabbouleh, yogurt salad, baba ghannouj, grape leaves, hummus, and falafel

The veggie sampler plate gave me just about every non-meat item I could think about trying. Usually my favorite is Falafel, and such was the case here. These were crispy outside and had a good flavor inside, as they should. They do not look very large on the photo but I remember them being substantial enough to fill me up (along with the numerous other items that were served).

The Tabbouleh was probably what I considered to be the other standout item. This had a good flavor and was quite fresh.

The Hummus had a white color that almost reminded me of the labna I have tried in other restaurants. The olive oil provided much of the flavor, but everything seemed fresh.

I do not generally like Baba Ghannouj anywhere, and this eggplant dish was not my favorite here either. This was one of the better ones I have tried, though.

The Grape Leaves were not my favorite, but it is funny that many restaurants that have good grape leaves do not serve hummus and other side dishes that are as good as here. At least this gives an incentive to go around trying different items at different restaurants.

Lamb kabobs
Lamb kabobs

After trying both the meat and veggie sampler plate, I tried to find something that I thought would be one of Zam Zam's specialty plates. The Lamb Kabobs certainly seemed to qualify, with high quality and flavorful meat. I actually did not know if I would like the lamb meat, but the one at Zam Zam is definitely worth trying (and had a very mild meat flavor that had just the right amount of spices).

The Rice served with the lamb kabobs was excellent, and the hummus stood out from others I have tried (and seemed to be better than when I tried it here before).

Zam Zam serves a very good Middle Eastern style tea that I thought made a good meal even better. They charged me for a refill on the tea, though, which does not seem to be standard practice at most Middle Eastern restaurants.

A canned fruit juice (which is also very good) makes a good drink in warm weather.

Several types of Baklava are available, and I think they are great.

Zam Zam is open until 10 p.m. on weeknights, and so far is the only "late night" Middle Eastern restaurant I have found.

I will have to say, though, that even though I have enjoyed the food, several issues have left me seriously questioning how often I want to go to Zam Zam. The issue of smoke coming into the dining room is the real drawback for me, since it has happened every time I have visited (the first couple of times I thought it was a fluke that could be remedied by choosing a different table the next time). The issue of not having accessible parking has always bothered me, although if I were to avoid Zam Zam for this reason I would have to do the same at many other Oklahoma City restaurants. In addition, though, I also question the value I get here for the money spent (compared to other Middle Eastern restaurants in OKC that serve similar quality food). Zam Zam is not quite in the $$$ price category, but it is close.

Still, though, I really have nothing but good things to say about the food. This is probably because the food served here is one of the cuisines I enjoy the most, and especially when everything is high quality.



Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: No Designated Handicapped Parking
Smoking: No Smoking (Smoking allowed on outdoor patio)
Alcohol: No
Special Features: Houka

Most Recent Visit
Jul. 29, 2011

Number of Visits: 3

Best Items
Kufta, Chicken, Lamb Kabob, Falafel, Tabbouleh

Special Ratings
Chicken Skewer:
Lamb Kabob:
Grape Leaves:
Baba Ghannouj: