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First Look: Chips & Dips Mediterranean Cafe

Eat well, my friends. Those four words written on the menu board of recently opened Chips & Dips Mediterranean Cafe say plenty about its chef-owner Yahia Kamal.

Kamal, a 30-year restaurant industry veteran, is well-known around Kansas City for both his kind hospitality and savory Mediterranean foods. His line of Yummy’s Choice hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, pita bread and other products are sold in 30 area supermarkets.

Kamal’s newest venture offers fare similar to his south Kansas City establishment, Marble Top Cafe (8436 Ward Parkway). Both contemporary cafes feature a warm color palette with decor and food that reflects Kamal’s heritage from Palestine’s West Bank. Chips & Dips’ orange-and-earth tone color scheme is as inviting as Kamal’s mustachioed smile and greeting.

Chips & Dips is located a block away from Hospital Hill, an area home to Truman Medical Center, Children’s Mercy Hospital and UMKC’s Hospital Hill campus. Kamal’s heart-healthy food makes sense for this nearby audience of professionals, students and neighborhood residents.

“I thought it was a good idea for this location to be close to a young generation and the area,” says Kamal. “They love to have something different. Healthy, Mediterranean food is an exact fit for the area.”

In his words, Kamal’s food represents the “simplicity of things, simple and good-tasting.”

The menu at Chips & Dips splits into sandwiches, salads, sides, plates, soups and drinks. For a taste of summer no matter the season, mango lemonade is hard to beat. Strong Turkish coffee, espresso or an Americano can deliver a bold dose of caffeine as desired.

Grilled chicken shawarma outsells other staples including the falafel sandwich, gyro with beef, lamb or chicken, or the grilled vegetable sandwich. The popular vegetarian plate – abundant enough to share – combines hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, tabouli and dolma or stuffed grape leaves, with pita bread.

Naturally, chips and dips are on hand for dining in or to-go orders that trump fast food. Kamal makes pita, tortilla and gluten-free chips in-house. He uses garbanzo bean flour for the gluten-free version. Dips and sides include hearty sun-dried tomato- or chipotle-flavored lebaneh, a type of Mediterranean cheese spread; spanakopita; and Feta chunks marinated in olive oil, chile flakes and spice. A refrigerated case makes it easy and fast to grab a meal on the go with pre-packaged chips.

Chips & Dips has received a warm neighborhood response since it opened. “People like the place and the food. I want more people to come and try it,” Kamal says with a smile before he returns to the counter.

Mediterranean music plays overhead in the background. A local couple finishes their lunch and chats with Kamal about sesame seed cookies before departing. They stroll down the sidewalk toward home.

By all appearances, they have eaten well.

Chips & Dips Mediterranean Cafe is open Monday to Thursday from 10am to 8pm; Friday to Saturday from 10am to 9pm; and the cafe is closed on Sunday. 

Chips & Dips Mediterranean Cafe, 2506 Holmes St., Kansas City, MO, 816.804.2820, yummyschoice.com and facebook.com/ChipsAndDipsMediterraneanCafe


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Writer Pete Dulin is the author of Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, KC Ale Trail, and Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries Across Central Kansas and Missouri.

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