Al Amir - 629 Main Street

Posted by The LunchMen Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Once upon a time, Al Amir graced the Shandon area as the go-to place for fine Mediterranean cuisine. For whatever reason, a couple of years back the restaurant packed up and moved to the suburbs, opening a new place in the dreaded “Harbison” area. Townies lamented the loss of this landmark, and had to turn elsewhere for dining options from the Middle Sea. So, you can imagine our excitement when we learned that Al Amir had opened a new restaurant on South Main Street, close to campus, the government buildings, and most importantly, our office. We quickly gathered a group and headed on over.

What we hoped would be a strong satellite of the mother-ship restaurant, however, turned out to be more of an ugly stepchild. First, the downtown Al Amir doesn’t offer their famous pizzas or Damascus bread. This is the equivalent of having a strip club where the customers wear blindfolds. When we found out that pizza was not on the menu, we contemplated leaving altogether. However, we stayed to give the place a fair shake, and we resolved to find other delicious items to make up for it. Sadly, we failed to do so.

I opted for Veggie Kabobs with yellow rice and a side salad. At least I think that is what I ordered. My meal was so bland, so forgettable, that I’m having trouble remembering exactly what was served. That’s not to say that it was bad, but it just wasn’t really great either. I’m accustomed to leaving Al Amir stuffed and impressed, not hungry and under-whelmed. Two of my dining companions shared this sentiment.

However, there is some hope, courtesy of Kali. Kali opted for the student special – a Gyro and Fries for 5 bucks (available on Tuesdays) – and he was relatively pleased with his choice, especially for the price. If this option catches on with the Carolina kids, then Al Amir just might draw in the crowds it needs to make it on Campus. Rumor also has it that there is a brick oven in the works at the new location. If so, then we will be heading back down to give them another try. However, they won't be seeing any more of us with the current menu.

- Rabbit

Al Amir on Urbanspoon

1 Responses to Al Amir - 629 Main Street

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. This post makes me want to stop reading this blog. First- they do have pizza on the menu and it is amazing. For 5 bucks on Thursdays you can get a one topping pizza that rivals Terra's brick oven pizza. Second- their Shawarma wrap is what dreams are made of, you won't find anything on a lunch menu anywhere with more flavor. Between this post and the terrible post about El Burrito I wonder if you are better suited for reviewing Applebee's 3 for 1 appetizers and the Ruby Tuesday's salad buffet. I don't think it is your fault, I simply think all the lettuce you have consumed has ruined your taste buds.


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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.