Restaurant Spotlight: Nil’s Mediterranean Cuisine

The Medi Bowl is filled with healthy ingredients like tabbouleh, tzatziki, hummus, baba ghanoush, feta, pickled red cabbage, and more.

Since becoming the owner of Nil’s Mediterranean Cuisine in the Varina business district more than a year ago, Tan Uckan has refreshed the café’s menu and décor to provide a more modern approach to dining. Patrons have embraced the changes, so much so that the eatery nabbed Best Mediterranean Restaurant and Best Healthy-Dining Options honors in the 2023 Maggy Awards. In addition, Uckan’s Medi Bites food truck received Honorable Mention in the Best Food Truck category.

“We are so grateful for all the support from our loyal guests,” says Uckan, a native of Türkiye (formerly known as Turkey). “We have worked really hard to provide fresh, healthy food that is flavorful and consistent in quality.”

Consider the tempting standout menu items at Nil’s:

  • A lamb-and-beef pita pocket burger with caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese;
  • Signature roasted cauliflower with goat cheese, fresh herbs, olive oil, and red bell pepper vinaigrette;
  • A bountiful Medi bowl brimming with seasonal greens, tabbouleh, tzatziki, hummus, feta, baba ghanoush, olives, pickled red cabbage, and more.

The delectable lamb-and-beef pita pocket burger served with fries.

If you prefer a spicy alternative, order a taco Turco with lemon-tinged beef and pickled hot peppers or the gyritto, a distinctive Mediterranean fusion burrito.

Gluten-free and vegan options are available. Be sure to ask, as Nil’s can accommodate most food sensitivities.

Off-menu weekly specials have resonated well with regulars. The inventive offerings include fork-tender braised beef short ribs with mushroom wine sauce; pan-fried grouper with roasted vegetables; and lamb chops with demiglace, roasted cherry tomatoes, and white rice.

A front-and-center positioned display case contains perfectly flaky baklava and pistachio-laden cannoli that are always on point.

Uckan has also added a nice selection of wines from California, Italy, and Spain. Domestic and imported beer is also popular. For a refreshing nonalcoholic option, try the house-made hibiscus iced tea.

Falafel with smoked eggplant topped with yogurt sauce and served alongside pita bread.

New tables and chairs, wallpaper, lighting, and a large chalkboard menu yielded a warm, comfortable vibe to the dining room.

“We are now offering live music from 6–8 on Friday nights,” Uckan shares. “People are reserving tables, which is great to see.”

Uckan revealed that he hopes to expand the restaurant in the future, especially since the town continues to grow.

“I love what I am doing,” he says. “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.”

Nil’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Catering is available for small and large events.

Husband and wife Semra (left) and Tan Uckan work alongside each other in The Nil’s kitchen.

Nil’s Mediterranean Cuisine
513 Broad St., Fuquay-Varina
(919) 567-0887

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