Grape Leaf Diner lives up to its reputation

  • chickenghalaba-jpg

    Chicken Ghalaba at the Grape Leaf Diner in Holland.

  • In the middle of the Grape Leaf Diner's small dining room stands a crystal-clear saltwater aquarium. Clearly tended with care, the tank and its vibrantly colored occupants make both a fun backdrop to a meal and a fitting showcase for the restaurant's meticulous attention to detail.

    The Grape Leaf, first opened in 1995, has a solid reputation both in person and online, and in our recent visits it was easy to see why. The diner, in a small shopping plaza on McCord Road, is clean, nicely decorated (if a little cramped), and serves fine examples of classic Mediterranean dishes. This is a great place to eat, and diners should feel confident ordering anything on the menu. All of our meals were well prepared, full of flavor, and served in impressive portions.

    We love shawarma, and the Grape Leaf's version did not disappoint. The lunch Chicken Shawarma ($8.99) boasted a sliced, marinated chicken breast served with garlic sauce, hommous, and the large helping of almond pilaf that accompanies most of the restaurant's entrees. The chicken was perfectly cooked, and though the meal appears light, there was more than enough to take home for seconds.

    Grape Leaf Diner

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

    Address: 909 S. McCord Rd., Holland

    Phone: 419-868-9099

    Category: Casual

    Menu: Lebanese and Mediterranean

    Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

    Wheelchair access: Yes

    Average Price: $$

    Credit cards: AE, MC, V, D


    The Ghalaba ($13.99) — we tried the Chicken and Veggie versions — is basically a Mediterranean stir fry with a medley of vegetables seasoned and served with the aforementioned rice pilaf. Bursting with flavor, the dish was really filling and satisfying.

    Maybe our favorite dinner was the Shish Kabob ($16.99): large cubes of marinated beef, onions, a heaping mound of pilaf, and our choice of a gargantuan side of minty, delicious Tabbouli. The fresh sides perfectly contrasted the savory steak.

    The appetizers really stand out at the Grape Leaf. Every order, from the Fried Kibbie ($7.49, beef and onions stuffed into hand-shaped balls of meat and cracked wheat) to the Hommous ($6.99/large), was enjoyable, substantial, and plated with care. The true standouts for us were the creamy and delicious Baba Ghanouge ($2.99/dish), which we devoured by hearty scoops with the complimentary pita chips; some of the best Falafel ($6.49) we’ve ever had, and the delightful Crushed Lentil Soup that came with one of our meals.

    For dessert, we easily recommend the flaky Baklava ($2.49), one of the best examples we've tried.

    For vegetarians or those just wanting a healthier meal, there is a wide variety of offerings including salads and a lineup of smoothies and punches. Take note, though, that the restaurant does not serve alcohol.

    It's easy to recommend the Grape Leaf Diner. The food is great. The service is friendly. The décor is interesting, clean, and inviting. And visitors are certain to leave with a stack of to-go boxes.

    Contact Bill of Fare: