- 1300 50th St., Suite 206, West Des Moines, IA, 50266
- Overall User Rating:
- (7 ratings)
- 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday - Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Closes earlier in bad weather) Closed Monday
If you’re a culinary traveler at all, you absolutely must try Saraj. Even if you’re a bit shy around exotic-to-Iowa fare, there’s an overall freshness and quality to the offerings that should appeal to just about any food lover.
Atmosphere: Owner Fuada Aljic, who is originally from Bosnia, relocated her restaurant from Douglas Avenue to the spot vacated by Phat Chefs. She has decorated with a few Old World touches; with marble tabletops and freshly upholstered booths, the place is pleasantly adorned, but with plastic soft-drink tumblers and paper napkins, it’s by no means posh, either.
Menu: Bosnian specialties include kebobs, moussaka, goulash, stuffed cabbage, gyros and “pita” — savory phyllo-layered dishes. Find braised shanks on Wednesdays and grilled rack of lamb anytime. Also, cheeseburgers, onion rings, hot wings and chicken tenders, if you must.
Best bites: Everything is served in copious portions, especially the sandwiches. You’ve been warned.
For lunch, try a fabulous Bosnian gyro, with pressed beef, yogurt (Tzatziki sauce) and trimmings. What makes it different than a Greek gyro? The bread — the Bosnian loaf is like a cross between a pita and focaccia. It’s baked in-house, and it’s wonderful.
Split the gyros and a Bosnian mixed salad, a generous bowl of thin, tender cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions in a sour cream dressing; Fresh, summery and sublime, it equaled much more than the sum of its parts.
The marvelous goulash brought a braised beef stew in a thick, heady tomato-based sauce, topped with a mound of diced cooked yellow potatoes. The infinitely satisfying Moussaka is kind of like a Bosnian take on shepherd’s pie — seasoned ground beef topped with an au gratin potato-like topping.
Not for everyone: Our young, attentive server mentioned that whenever there’s a table of Bosnians, someone will order the cevapi. These are beef sausages served on the Bosnian bread, with a thick slice of onion and sour cream on the side. I can imagine many meat-lovers going nuts over this thing, but I found it a bit funky and undercooked.
Stay for dessert? Yes — don’t miss the generously nutty baklava and the sampita — a homemade yellow cake topped with about four inches of meringue.