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GTFO: Eat Your Way Through The Arab World In Dearborn


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lida Flick



Welcome to Dearborn, a city in Michigan with a vibrant and diverse Arab community. Known as the Arab capital of the United States, Dearborn offers a unique and authentic food travel experience for those seeking to explore Arab cuisine. From mouthwatering shawarma to flavorful hummus and falafel, Dearborn is a haven for food enthusiasts.


With a rich Arab heritage, Dearborn is home to a diverse population that has contributed to the culinary landscape of the city. The Arab immigrants who settled in Dearborn brought with them their traditional recipes and cooking techniques, resulting in a melting pot of flavors. Whether you’re a foodie looking to explore new tastes or simply curious about Arab culture, Dearborn is the perfect destination to embark on a flavorful adventure.


This article will delve into the world of Arab cuisine in Dearborn, highlighting some of the must-try dishes and where to find them. So, get your taste buds ready as we take a culinary journey through the Arab world in Dearborn.


Dearborn: A Cultural Melting Pot

Dearborn, located in Wayne County, Michigan, is a city known for its rich cultural diversity. It is home to a thriving Arab community that has made significant contributions to the cultural fabric of the city. With a population of over 40,000 Arab Americans, Dearborn has embraced its Arab heritage and become a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and cuisines.


Arab immigrants began arriving in Dearborn in the early 20th century, seeking better opportunities and economic stability. Over the years, they have established a strong presence in the city, creating a vibrant community that celebrates its Arab roots. From Arab-owned businesses to cultural festivals and events, the Arab influence is deeply embedded in the fabric of Dearborn.


One of the most fascinating aspects of Dearborn’s Arab community is its culinary scene. The city is home to numerous Arab grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, and cafes that offer a wide range of authentic Arab dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Middle Eastern fare or a fusion of Arab flavors, Dearborn has something to satisfy every palate.


What sets Dearborn apart is its commitment to preserving and promoting Arab culture. The Arab American National Museum, located in the heart of Dearborn, is the first museum in the United States dedicated to documenting and sharing the experiences of Arab Americans. Through its exhibits and educational programs, the museum provides visitors with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Arab culture.


In addition to the museum, Dearborn also hosts several annual cultural events, such as the Dearborn Arab International Festival. This vibrant festival showcases Arab music, dance, art, and, of course, food. It is a celebration of Arab heritage and a testament to the city’s commitment to fostering cultural exchange.


Dearborn’s unique position as a cultural melting pot makes it an ideal destination for food lovers and travelers seeking a truly immersive experience. When you visit Dearborn, you are not just sampling delicious Arab cuisine; you are also immersing yourself in a rich and diverse cultural heritage.


Arab Cuisine in Dearborn

When it comes to Arab cuisine, Dearborn offers a plethora of options that will tantalize your taste buds. From traditional dishes passed down through generations to modern interpretations of Arab flavors, you’ll find it all in this vibrant city. Here are some of the must-try dishes that showcase the rich and diverse Arab cuisine in Dearborn:

  • Shawarma: One of the most iconic Middle Eastern dishes, shawarma is a flavorful combination of marinated meat, typically chicken or beef, cooked on a vertical rotisserie and served in a pita bread with a variety of toppings. Dearborn is renowned for its mouthwatering shawarma, which is often accompanied by tangy garlic sauce and pickles.
  • Hummus and Falafel: Another staple of Arab cuisine, hummus and falafel are beloved dishes enjoyed across the Arab world. Hummus is a creamy dip made from chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices. Falafel, on the other hand, is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, flavored with herbs and spices. Dearborn boasts numerous restaurants and eateries that serve up delectable versions of these classics.
  • Manakish: If you’re looking for a delicious breakfast option, try manakish. This traditional Levantine bread is topped with a variety of ingredients, such as za’atar (a flavorful herb mixture), cheese, or ground meat. It’s a popular and filling morning meal that you can find in many Arab bakeries throughout Dearborn.
  • Makloubeh: A traditional Palestinian dish, makloubeh is a fragrant and hearty one-pot meal that translates to “upside down” in Arabic. It typically consists of layers of rice, meat (such as chicken or lamb), and an assortment of vegetables, all cooked together until tender. The dish is then inverted onto a serving platter, resulting in a visually stunning and delicious meal.
  • Knafeh: No Arab culinary journey is complete without indulging in some sweets, and knafeh is a dessert that should not be missed. This sweet treat is made from shredded phyllo pastry, creamy white cheese, and a sweet sugar syrup flavored with rose water. Dearborn is home to several bakeries where you can find freshly made knafeh that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Tea and Coffee: To complete your Arab dining experience, don’t forget to try traditional Arabic tea and coffee. Arabic tea is a flavorful blend of black tea, often infused with spices like cardamom and mint. Arabic coffee, known as “qahwa,” is a strong and aromatic drink made from roasted coffee beans and infused with spices like cardamom. These hot beverages are often served with dates as a gesture of hospitality.

Whether you’re a food lover on a culinary adventure or simply curious about Arab cuisine, Dearborn is a treasure trove of flavors waiting to be explored. The city’s vibrant Arab community has helped establish Dearborn as a culinary destination worth experiencing firsthand.


Shawarma: A Taste of the Middle East

One of the most popular and beloved dishes in Arab cuisine is shawarma, a flavorful and aromatic meat dish that originates from the Middle East. Dearborn is known for its exceptional shawarma, making it a must-try food for visitors and locals alike.


Shawarma consists of marinated slices of meat, typically chicken or beef, stacked on a vertical rotisserie and slow-cooked until tender and juicy. The meat is often marinated in a flavorful blend of spices, herbs, and sometimes yogurt, which infuses it with a mouthwatering taste. As the meat slowly cooks, the outer layers become crispy and caramelized, adding a delectable texture to the dish.


One of the reasons why shawarma is so beloved is its versatility. The cooked meat is typically sliced or shaved off the rotisserie and served in a warm pita bread. It is then topped with an array of delicious accompaniments, such as pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, tahini sauce, and garlic sauce. The combination of tender meat, crispy toppings, and creamy sauces creates a harmonious medley of flavors and textures.


When it comes to finding outstanding shawarma in Dearborn, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Numerous restaurants and food stalls specialize in this iconic dish, serving up their unique variations and taking pride in their culinary creations. Whether you prefer chicken or beef shawarma, or even a mix of both, there is something to satisfy every palate.


When you sink your teeth into a shawarma in Dearborn, you’ll be transported to the streets of the Middle East, where the aroma of sizzling meat wafts through the air. It’s an experience that transcends taste, immersing you in the rich culinary heritage of the Arab world.


So, if you’re visiting Dearborn, don’t miss out on indulging in a shawarma feast. Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite on the go or sitting down for a leisurely meal, the savory delights of Dearborn’s shawarma will leave you craving for more.


Hummus and Falafel: Middle Eastern Classics

When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine, two dishes that immediately come to mind are hummus and falafel. These iconic dishes have gained immense popularity worldwide, and in Dearborn, they are served with authenticity and excellence.


Hummus, a creamy and flavorful dip, is made from mashed chickpeas blended with tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and a touch of spices. It has a silky smooth texture and a distinct nutty taste. In Dearborn, you’ll find hummus served as an appetizer or a side dish in many Middle Eastern restaurants. It’s typically garnished with olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, and fresh parsley, and served with warm pita bread for dipping.


Falafel, on the other hand, is a favorite street food in the Middle East. These deep-fried balls or patties are made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, combined with herbs, spices, and onions. Dearborn is home to several establishments where you can enjoy freshly made falafel that is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It’s commonly served in a pita bread alongside a variety of colorful toppings like pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and a drizzle of tahini sauce.


What makes hummus and falafel so special is not only their delicious flavors, but also their versatility. They can be enjoyed as a snack, incorporated into wraps or sandwiches, or used as a spread for your favorite dishes. The simplicity of these dishes, combined with the bold flavors, makes them a beloved part of Arab cuisine.


Dearborn’s Arab community takes pride in offering authentic and high-quality hummus and falafel. The local restaurants and cafes use traditional recipes and methods to ensure an unforgettable dining experience. So whether you’re a fan of tangy, creamy hummus or crave the crispiness of falafel, Dearborn is the place to be.


For food enthusiasts and travelers looking to immerse themselves in Middle Eastern cuisine, a visit to Dearborn’s hummus and falafel establishments is a must. Indulging in these classic dishes is not only a treat for your taste buds, but also an opportunity to appreciate the rich and flavorful culture of the Arab world.


Manakish: A Breakfast Favorite

For breakfast lovers, one dish that cannot be missed in Dearborn is manakish. This traditional Levantine bread has become a breakfast staple and a beloved favorite among locals and visitors alike.


Manakish is a flatbread that is topped with a variety of ingredients and baked to perfection. The most popular topping is za’atar, a flavorful herb and spice mixture that includes thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt. The combination of aromatic herbs and the earthy taste of sesame seeds creates a unique and tantalizing flavor profile.


In addition to za’atar, manakish can also be topped with cheese, such as akkawi or halloumi, which melts beautifully and adds a creamy element to the dish. Some variations include the addition of minced meat, tomatoes, olives, or even a combination of several toppings.


One of the best places in Dearborn to savor authentic manakish is at Arab bakeries, where the bread is freshly baked to perfection. The warm and aromatic smell of the freshly baked flatbread combined with the enticing toppings creates an irresistible aroma that will surely awaken your senses.


Manakish is often enjoyed for breakfast, although it can be enjoyed at any time of the day. In Dearborn, it is a common sight to see people grabbing a manakish on the go, accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee, as they start their day.


Whether you’re a fan of the traditional za’atar topping or prefer the indulgence of melted cheese, manakish is a versatile and delicious breakfast option that will satisfy your cravings. Its simplicity, combined with the unique flavors of the Middle East, makes it a delightful and comforting way to start your day.


So, when you find yourself in Dearborn, make sure to seek out local bakeries and restaurants that serve manakish. It’s an opportunity to experience an authentic Middle Eastern breakfast and indulge in the rich flavors of this beloved morning delight.


Makloubeh: A Traditional Palestinian Dish

If you’re in Dearborn and looking to immerse yourself in the rich flavors of Palestinian cuisine, then makloubeh is a dish you simply cannot miss. This traditional Palestinian specialty is a flavorful one-pot meal that is as visually stunning as it is delicious.


The word “makloubeh” translates to “upside down” in Arabic, and that perfectly describes the presentation of this dish. Makloubeh is typically made by layering rice, meat (such as chicken, lamb, or beef), and an assortment of vegetables, such as eggplant, cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes, in a pot. The ingredients are then cooked together until they are tender and the flavors meld together in perfect harmony.


Once the cooking process is complete, the pot is carefully inverted onto a serving platter, so the rice forms a beautiful golden crust on top, with the layers of vegetables and meat perfectly arranged. This presentation adds to the visual appeal of the dish and creates a sense of anticipation before it is served.


Makloubeh is not just a dish; it is a representation of Palestinian hospitality and the generous spirit of the people. It is often served during special occasions and family gatherings, where guests are treated to this elaborate and flavorsome feast.


Dearborn’s Palestinian community takes great pride in preserving the authenticity of makloubeh and ensuring that the traditional flavors are maintained. Many local restaurants and eateries in the city offer this beloved dish, allowing visitors to experience the true essence of Palestinian cuisine.


With its fragrant aroma, colorful presentation, and combination of hearty ingredients, makloubeh is a dish that truly satisfies both the stomach and the soul. It is a testament to the passion and culinary skill of Palestinian cooks and a celebration of the rich cultural heritage that is cherished in Dearborn.


So, if you’re looking to embark on a culinary journey through Palestinian cuisine, be sure to seek out authentic makloubeh in Dearborn. Indulge in this traditional dish and allow yourself to be transported to the vibrant flavors and warm hospitality of Palestine.


Knafeh: A Sweet Delight

When it comes to indulging your sweet tooth in Dearborn, there is one dessert that is an absolute must-try: knafeh. This delightful Middle Eastern sweet treat is beloved for its unique combination of flavors, textures, and aromatic syrup.


Knafeh consists of two main components: a base layer of shredded phyllo pastry and a creamy white cheese filling. The phyllo pastry is traditionally hand-rolled into fine threads, creating a delicate and crispy texture. The cheese used in knafeh is typically akkawi or nabulsi, which adds a slightly salty and tangy note to balance out the sweetness of the dessert.


But what truly sets knafeh apart is the syrup that is poured over it. The syrup is usually flavored with orange blossom water or rose water, infusing the dessert with a fragrant and floral aroma. This syrup adds a touch of sweetness and moisture to the knafeh, elevating its flavors to another level.


In Dearborn, there are numerous bakeries and sweet shops that specialize in making knafeh. Whether you prefer it in the form of a large tray or as individual bite-sized portions, you’ll find a variety of options to satisfy your craving. Some establishments even offer unique twists on the classic knafeh, such as adding crushed pistachios or drizzling it with chocolate.


As you take your first bite into knafeh, you’ll experience a delightful contrast of textures. The crispy phyllo pastry gives way to the soft and creamy cheese filling, while the syrup adds a burst of sweetness and fragrance. It’s a harmonious combination that will leave your taste buds dancing with joy.


Whether you’re a dessert lover or simply looking to experience a taste of Middle Eastern sweetness, knafeh is a delightful treat that should not be missed in Dearborn. From its intricate presentation to its delectable flavors, knafeh is a true delight that showcases the rich culinary heritage of the Arab world.


So, be sure to save room for dessert when you visit Dearborn and make sure to indulge in a serving of delicious knafeh. It’s a sweet experience that will leave you with a lasting memory of the flavors and hospitality of the Arab community in Dearborn.


Tea and Coffee: Arabic Beverages

Arabic culture is known for its love and appreciation of tea and coffee, and in Dearborn, you’ll find a vibrant coffee and tea scene that celebrates these Arabic beverages.


Arabic tea, commonly known as “shai,” is a fragrant and flavorful blend of black tea leaves, often infused with spices like cardamom or mint. Served hot, Arabic tea is a staple in Arab households and is often offered as a gesture of hospitality. The aromatic spices and herbs add depth and complexity to the tea, creating a warm and comforting experience.


When it comes to coffee, Arabic coffee, also known as “qahwa,” holds a special place in Arab culture. Arabic coffee is made from roasted coffee beans that are lightly spiced with cardamom and occasionally other spices like cloves or saffron. The coffee is brewed in a special pot called a “dallah” and served in small cups known as “finjan.” Arabic coffee is not just a beverage; it’s a symbol of hospitality and a way to bring people together.


In Dearborn, you’ll find numerous coffee shops and Arabic cafes that serve traditional Arabic tea and coffee. These establishments create a cozy atmosphere where you can sit back, relax, and savor a steaming cup of tea or coffee, often accompanied by delicious pastries or sweets.


One popular tradition in Arabic coffee culture is the serving of dates alongside the coffee. Dates symbolize generosity and are often enjoyed before or after sipping on the aromatic and flavorful qahwa. So, when you visit a coffee shop in Dearborn, don’t forget to savor the unique combination of Arabic coffee and dates.


The tea and coffee culture in Dearborn is not just about the beverages themselves, but also the art of conversation and connection. It’s a chance to gather with friends or family, relax, and engage in meaningful conversations over a warm cup of tea or coffee.


So, when you’re in Dearborn, take the time to immerse yourself in the Arabic tea and coffee culture. Visit a local cafe, savor the aromatic flavors, and experience the warmth and hospitality that these beverages represent. It’s an opportunity to truly embrace the Arab way of life and create memorable moments.



Dearborn, with its vibrant Arab community, offers a culinary journey through the Arab world that is not to be missed. The city’s rich cultural diversity, combined with its dedication to preserving and promoting Arab heritage, makes it a prime destination for those seeking an authentic food travel experience.


From the sizzling and aromatic shawarma to the creamy and flavorful hummus and falafel, Dearborn’s Arab cuisine is a true sensory delight. The traditional breakfast favorite, manakish, provides a hearty start to your day, while the flavorful and visually stunning makloubeh offers a taste of Palestinian tradition.


For those with a sweet tooth, the indulgent knafeh, with its crispy pastry, creamy cheese filling, and fragrant syrup, is a must-try. And of course, no Arab culinary experience would be complete without sipping on traditional Arabic tea and coffee, enjoying the rich flavors and warm hospitality.


Dearborn’s cultural melting pot creates a unique blend of flavors, aromas, and traditions that come together to deliver an unforgettable food travel experience. Whether you’re a food enthusiast looking for new tastes or simply curious about Arab culture, Dearborn invites you to explore, indulge, and discover the beauty of Arab cuisine.


So, pack your bags, bring your appetite, and embark on a journey through the Arab world in Dearborn. Allow your taste buds to be tantalized by the authentic flavors, and let the warmth and hospitability of the Arab community leave a lasting impression. With each dish you savor, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation of the rich culinary heritage that makes Dearborn a food lover’s paradise.