Tucson, AZ: Central (Speedway/ E. of Alvernon)
Website and Menu
Step into the quaint restaurant of Zayna and you have found a mediterranean gem in the middle of the Sonoran desert. The entire building consists of two rooms, (during the weekdays and non-busy times, only one room) with seating for about 30 in each room. Although the restaurant does not explicitly offer a gluten-free menu, there are an abundance of options of those with food allergies.
When it comes to gluten, the only menu items that do contain gluten, are the gyro meat, pita bread, tabbouleh (bulgar wheat), sandwiches, beer, and all desserts including the obvious baklava. Check it out – you can have falafel and fries (which are both fried in a fryer without any gluten), hummus, chicken shawarma, and more!
If you’ve never had Mediterranean food, don’t let that keep you from going! If you like chicken and some seasoning (nothing too crazy), then you will love the chicken shawarma. It comes with green beens (which I sub for rice), hummus, a tomato, pickle, and garlic sauce. Be sure to let them know you’re gluten free so they don’t bring hummus on your plate, and if they make a mistake and bring it out with hummus (which they never have for me before) just be sure and ask them to re-make it! The staff is friendly and the restaurant is family-owned, so all the cooks are related and truly care about the authentic food they make. When I go to Zayna, there’s no competition, I order the chicken shawarma plate every time.
If you order a side of fries (which I highly recommend :] ) Be sure to ask for a side of garlic sauce. It compliments the fries beautifully (as well as the chicken shawarma plate, which comes with the sauce). This garlic sauce is also dairy free, because it’s basically mayo and lemon juice. Some other entrees come with yogurt sauce which is not dairy free and has a completely different flavor with cucumber, garlic, and mint. Be sure to read the menu and talk to your waiter if you are dairy free, as I’m sure you can sub the garlic sauce.
The fries are safe in their own fryer with the falafal, which is a great thing for gluten-free folks! My understanding is that as in any restaurant cross contamination is always an issue, but generally all the chicken is cooked on one side of the grill, separate from the gluten-containing foods. You can also tell the chef if you have celiac or need them to be extra-careful and they are willing to wipe down the grill. Going in at a slower time, such as a weekday or between lunch and dinner is always a good idea for your first visit.
It’s a great to-go dinner too!
Zayna Mediterranean specializes in light and healthy vegetarian, Middle Eastern & Mediterranean cuisine made from fresh ingredients and served in a casual setting.