When my friends and I were surveying the Mount Vernon area for potential brunch spots, we happened upon Café Filí. Just a quick JHMI ride to Mount Vernon and a brisk five-minute walk to the restaurant, Café Filí is a convenient and valuable location that will satisfy your cravings for Mediterranean food.
What makes Café Filí unique is that it not only provides traditional pastries and coffee but also presents an extensive menu of tasty and filling Mediterranean dishes.
Upon entering the cafe, we were immediately greeted by the cool blues and whites of the modern interior design, reminiscent of the typical Mediterranean color palette. The large windows letting in the gorgeous sunlight provided the warmth we needed to escape from the drastic cold of the winter season.
All throughout the area, the hustle and bustle of the restaurant was apparent, with many customers chatting with friends and others working on their laptops. The ambiance of the restaurant was somewhere between a cafe and a restaurant. While there were seating areas designed for large groups, there were also some individual high stool seats by the window for those looking to get some work done. The cafe even included signs encouraging guests to limit their laptop time to one hour to give room for other potential customers.
The menu showcased a wide variety of options to choose from, depending on whether you were in the mood for cafe food, a breakfast meal or a Mediterranean spread. While there were bagels, muffins and pies on display at the counter and the usual assortment of coffee options, the brunch menu boasted everything from french toast and grilled cheese to falafel bowls and lamb platters. Even some of their breakfast items had a Mediterranean twist to them, such as the Greek and Turkish scramble.
After placing our orders at the counter, we grabbed a seat and eagerly anticipated our food. Seeing the colorful dishes of those around us only made our anticipation grow. Despite the many menu options, to our surprise, three out of the four of us ordered the same thing: the lamb grain bowl with soft pita — we did not discuss our orders prior, I swear. Besides lamb, there were also options for chicken and falafel grain bowls. My other friend chose to be different with his Chicken Shish Tawook Kabob platter. Of course, we ordered more hummus and grilled pita chips for the table as well.
Not only were the lamb grain bowls beautifully presented with their colorful ingredients (see image above), but they were also very filling and hit the spot. The grain bowls were complete with all of the integral food groups, including freekeh grain, cauliflower, salad, protein and even more hummus. The lamb was cooked so well with its juicy and tender texture, and its flavors were complemented by the tahini sauce. I especially loved the roasted cauliflower, which was crispy and well-seasoned.
Though my friend’s kabob platter was the last order to be served, he highlighted that the wait was worth it, describing a positive correlation between the time it took and the quality of the meal. A staple in any Mediterranean feast, the hummus was very creamy with a smooth consistency and a slight spicy kick to it! Our many pita bread baskets quickly emptied as we ate, only making us even more satiated by the meal.
As we polished off the rest of our food, grinning from ear to ear, we could not stop raving about our meal. Though we were all full, we still had leftover hummus and pita bread, which speaks to the restaurant’s generous portions. The filling meal gradually brought us into the food coma stage of eating, as we wrapped up our brunch trip and headed back to Homewood Campus.
Aligned with the principles of the Mediterranean diet, the food at Café Filí left me feeling energized for the rest of the day. These diets have been shown to lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and cognitive decline. Café Filí’s meals may have been heavy and filling, but the emphasis on fresh foods, including vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds rather than highly processed ingredients ensured that we were not only eating a delicious meal for our taste buds, but eating right for our entire being as well.
While I often forget how much I love Mediterranean food, Café Filí has once again reignited my longing for more of this cuisine, and I will definitely be back for more!