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Falafel, Tabouli and Hummus, Oh my!

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If you live and/or work around downtown Boise, your dining options number aplenty. Outside the grid, it's sometimes harder to find something or somewhere new and interesting to eat. Folks who reside in the southeastern part of town now have a new old favorite: Mazzah has opened a second location on Parkcenter Boulevard (across from Smoky Mountain Pizza in the old Vicious Fish location).

Originally from Jordan, Mazzah owner Mohammed Bataineh and his wife Allyson moved from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Boise when Allyson was offered a job at HP. An engineer by trade, Bataineh decided to open a restaurant because, as he said, he's cooked his whole life. "I've always cooked, and I own a lot of cookbooks so I'm always adding new things." After just two years in business at their State Street location, opening another location seems a risky business. "People need more choices," was Bataineh's simple answer. And, according to him, they prefer the choices of items like baba ganooj, dolma and mujaddara over a sub sandwich. "I've already had repeat customers," he said. "And we've only been open since last Thursday."

I often hear people complain about is that there just aren't enough vegetarian dining options. Bataineh says that's not a problem at his restaurants. "We have falafel sandwiches, which are totally vegetarian. About 90 percent of our appetizers are vegetarian as well."

With two busy restaurants, I asked Bataineh if he spends a lot of time going back and forth between locations. "No, not really," he said. "We have everything at the State Street store in line, so I can spend my time at the new location."

The hours of operation at the new location are Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed on Sunday. Keep your eyes open for information on a grand opening planned for some time in the next two weeks.

With a degree in engineering, opening and running a restaurant does not seem an obvious route to take, but for Bataineh, it's obviously been a good one. "I used to be an engineer; now I engineer sandwiches," he said laughing.

Mazzah, 404 E. Parkcenter Blvd., 208-333-2223; and 1772 W. State St., 208-333-2566, www.mazzah-id.com.