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10 Great Meals for Under $15 in Hell's Kitchen

Gazala Place

Address: 709 9th Ave.
Websitegazalaplace.com
Best Bet: Bureka ($5.50)

Gazala Place is home to the best Druze food — wait, the only Druze food — in the entire country. At least, that's what the chef claims. What does that mean to you? It means you're about to get down on some Syrian-Lebanese-Israeli cuisine, so check your cheeseburger dreams at the door.

For those in the know, Gazala is synonymous with burekas ($5.50), a circular puff pastry that comes stuffed with new ingriedients daily, things like fresh goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, all in a warm, super-flaky crust. Even the hummus here is not your average chickpea dip. Rather than being served with a standard, lackluster pita, you're given a basket of a just made, crepe-like carbohydrate called sagg, which serves as the ideal vehicle for maximum hummus-to-mouth action.

Something like 75% of Gazala's menu is devoted to non-entrees, so our advice is to go the appetizer route, and pick several that strike your fancy. Our fancy is struck by the crunchy satisfaction of the falafel ($6.50) and the Druze meat pie ($6.50), which is a baked pita shell filled with tender beef and bright chuncks of tomato, and finished with a strangely satsifying blend of spices.

We know what Druze is now. It's uniquely Middle Eastern cuisine that shoves our routine eating out the door with a delicious kick. Consider our comfort zone successfully expanded.

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