Meet me at Mezé | TheUnion.com

Meet me at Mezé

Middle Eastern Eatery offers Real Conscious Food in Downtown Grass Valley

Valerie Costa

If you've been to any event in western Nevada County for the past three years, you have probably seen the Falafel Kis booth.  If you've ever tried their authentic handmade falafel, you will probably be excited to learn that their new brick and mortar restaurant, Mezé Eatery, has just opened in downtown Grass Valley.

Intent on providing healthy options and using recipes from their native Israel, owners Alon and Tal Greenstein focus on serving "high vibe" food.  This means that everything on the menu is locally sourced, organic, non-GMO, nutrient rich food that will nourish you and keep you feeling satisfied for several hours.  "When we came here we knew that we wanted to do something special; as immigrants, we wanted to bring our own unique flavor here," Alon said.

Bringing flavors of the world to Grass Valley

Alon spent his late teens and 20s traveling all over the world and learning about different cuisines and cooking to earn money in whatever town he was in at the time.  When he returned home in his late 20s, Alon was looking for a profession and his mom encouraged him to choose something that would make money.  Heeding her advice, Alon went to cooking school in Tadmor and then started working in restaurants.  For five years, Alon cooked different cuisines from around the world and then opened a catering business specializing in finger foods for weddings, parties, events.  "We took everything you wanted and shrunk it into finger foods and created a different way to do it," Alon said.  "I think it's a good way of eating; diverse and healthy also because you don't overload your stomach."

Ten years later, Alon was approached by the Pacha Mama spiritual village in Costa Rica, who were looking for a chef to cook in the restaurant.  Alon and Tal took their six week old daughter in a leap of faith, and spent six years there creating high vibe vegan food that was wheat free, sugar free, and dairy free.  It was there that Alon learned about Nevada City, visited the area and fell in love with the place and the people here.  He returned to Costa Rica and asked Tal what she thought.  The schools in the rural Costa Rican village were not great, and the humidity was stifling, and they wanted their kids to have a great education.  So when he asked Tal, whose mother had grown up in Berkeley, about the possibility of moving to our small Northern California town, she said "Let's do it, it will be a new family adventure."

The couple started a falafel stand at the Nevada City Farmers Market which was an instant success.  They expanded to local fairs and festivals, and their customers kept demanding a restaurant.  "We felt we were developing a niche; I never knew that falafel had this potential here," Alon said. "We wanted to open a restaurant but didn't have the capital, so we had to gradually grow into that."

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A Healthy Alternative in Downtown Grass Valley

Mezé is an extension of the Falafel Kis booth, with a focus on Israeli "street food" that is ancient, healthy, fast to serve, and reasonably priced.   Everything is made from scratch on site; they even have a pitaria to bake their own pita on site.  "We appreciate freshness in pita and everything.  We make everything fresh daily.  The idea is from the macrobiotic kitchen to bring the importance of the preparation, how you work with ingredients to maximize their potential in the body," Alon explained.

He is also keeping it authentic and using recipes from his grandmother as well as new creations.  Alon takes pride in bringing ancient food to the people of today, citing that falafel has been around in literature since 1600 BC.  He has also created a line of raw desserts that he has dubbed "the deserts you can eat as much as you want" because they won't overload your system.  To accomplish this, Alon uses different types of sugar systems to keep your blood sugar low such as stevia, dates, raw honey, and trehalose.  "It's food that will make you feel satisfied on many levels and support your health," Tal said.

At the restaurant you can find the falafel, shawarma, and sabich sandwiches that the Falafel Kis booth is famous for.  You will also be able to choose Mezetims, which are three or four different salads with the right amount of protein and carbs such as baba ganoush and taboule that rotate seasonally, rainbow bowls, and more.  Takeaway containers will be 8 oz. and 16 oz., and you can mix and match the salads to suit your palate.

The health consciousness of the business goes beyond just the food served, as well.  Everything is biodegradable and compostable, so you can feel as good about what your food goes in as what goes in your food.  "As business owners we have to be the ones who make a statement by offering what is healthy," Alon said.  "It doesn't have to be flavor or the environment or health; it can be all of the above."

Mezé Eatery is located at 106 Mill Street in Downtown Grass Valley and is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.  To learn more, call 530-383-2382 or visit mezeeatery.com.

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