Cleo's Cuisine & Convenience (165 University Place, 504-522-4504; www.facebook.com/cleosnola) opened in the ground floor of a CBD parking garage. It doesn't look like much from the street, but an early visit revealed a small seating area just past the grocery shelves and a kitchen serving inexpensive but well-composed Middle Eastern staples around the clock.
The menu features everything from fried halloumi cheese to gyro sandwiches and generous kebab combo platters. Falafel arrived as large, crusty bulbs with green, parsley-laced interiors, and the hummus was garnished with a bright red dollop of garlicky hot sauce.
Cleo's also serves a small menu of American-style breakfast dishes, with smoked beef or turkey fashioned into sausage and bacon to replace the usual pork. The Yummy Egyptian breakfast is a $6 platter of sesame falafel, mashed fava beans, sliced tomato and cucumber, pickled eggplant and pita bread. Cleo's serves Egyptian tea, Turkish coffee and other soft drinks.
Husband-and-wife team Tarek and Aubrey Madkour opened Cleo's in May. Aubrey says they picked the 24-hour convenience store/cafe format to fill a need in the changing CBD.
"There are more people living downtown now, and one thing we heard is that they wanted more places for breakfast," she says.