Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Petra Café: a New Mediterranean Bar

At the intersection of East Jackson Ave. and Boles Wiley St. is a yellow building where Old Taylor Pub once resided before it Parrish’s, and before that, of course, Wiley’s Shoe Shop.
The café opens at 5:30 p.m. but that didn’t deter a small crowd of people from waiting on the benches outside the restaurant Monday night, Oct. 20th. The restaurant was comfortably crowded as soon as the door opened.

credit: Callie Daniels, taken Monday, Oct. 20th.
credit: Callie Daniels, taken Monday, Oct. 20th.

Petra Cafe has been compared to Volta but its cuisine is mostly Mediterranean. Its menu is authentic. There is shish kabob which is tenderloin cut grilled as desired and served with skewered vegetables. Gyros of course are served with chicken or pork, dressed with lettuce, tomatoes and tiziki sauce. They can be served up quickly for those who walk in with a growling stomach.
There are also interesting appetizers: labneh (a dish of soft cream cheese made from strained yogurt), kibbeh (a shell of cracked wheat stuffed with ground beef and nuts and served with tiziki sauce) and dalmas (also known as yalangi – in-house hand-rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice and fresh vegetables, all cooked with olive oil.) These appetizers can be tried all at once by ordering the Petra Platter for $11.
Owner Mike Alqasas says the customers’ favorites to order are the gyros and chicken shawarma, a garlicky chicken flavored with a savory yogurt and served on rice or pitas. As he said this Monday night, Oct. 20th, a table of six people was dining on chicken shawarma.
A customers' favorite: chicken shawarma
A customers’ favorite: chicken shawarma

Despite having the same name as the beloved Petra Café in Jackson, near Fondren, Petra Café in Oxford isn’t a branch of it. It only had the same name coincidentally. The owner has plans for this restaurant however.
“I will turn this restaurant into a bar and change the name when the bar permit arrives. We will serve some pizza, gyros and popular appetizers,” said Alqasas.
He said that the chicken shawarma will be kept too as well as possibly hummus. He said, “(The restaurant) is going with the trend – we’re hoping for the community’s support during our transition,” says Alqasas.
Callie Daniels is the staff reporter for HottyToddy.com. For questions she can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.