Cooper: College Hill Deli’s biryani and baklava on the cheap


Matt Cooper

Curry Chicken Biryani served at College Hill Deli.

After a beer at Biscuit Co. last Thursday, a friend suggested dinner at a criminally cheap Mediterranean café in College Hill. As a fellow with a pallet for chickpea dishes and an inquisitiveness on the discourses of Kerala (Indian) cuisine, I was much obliged.

First things first; College Hill Deli and Catering is run by two Wichita restaurant proprietors, Kassem and Ali Yassine. They have been open since 2009, a solid span for an indie-run diner in midtown.

The dining area is small and close knit, but comfortable enough for a meal for five. Lighting is low, Greek sweets lay await in a display case at the entrance and servers are attentive. The Deli’s real appeal though, as far as environment is concerned, is the intimate feel. The Deli feels as though it would be an apt place to drop by for a low-key meal after an evening class or a series of Cape Codders at Dempsey’s. Though, they don’t serve alcohol.

Food Choices

From pinches of continental, to an above-par hummus and pita to Shawarma and a skosh of Indian flavoring, College Hill Deli’s menu is nothing if not multi-faceted.

Notable dishes include Greek staples Baba Ganouj, Beef and Chicken Shawarma, Gyros and Kebab.

On the middle-eastern culinary front, the Deli serves up fresh tabouli, falafel and a dish that — up until walking through the Yassines’ storefront — I had never had the pleasure of trying: chicken curry biryani.

Biryani is a staple among comfort food eateries of southern Asia; India in particular. Biryani is a bed of steamed rice smothered in brown curry and usually served with mutton, lamb, chicken or beef. The dish is then accented with vegetables.

College Hill Deli’s biryani is excellent. It is saturated perfectly with cinnamon, garlic and cumin-rich curry sauce with tender, juicy chicken. The rice served with the biryani is tenderly delectable and goes perfectly with the accompanying squash and mixed vegetables.

The cafe’s hummus is well above average and highly addictive as well. Their pre-meal Fattoush salad with feta, was nothing to scoff at either.

My meal was capped off with a slice of crumbly, sweet, nutty, baklava. For $1.99, it was a desert worth well above the price paid. 

Other Notable Dishes

  • Fettuccini Alfredo
  • Bierock Pie
  • Reuben
  • College Hill Hamburger (A traditional burger for the traditional carnivorous student)
  • Mediterranean Vegan Delight (Sandwich wrapped in spinach grilled bread)
  • Falafel Sandwich (Wrap with chickpeas and fava beans)
  • Baklava ($1.99 per slice)


Nothing is too expensive at College Hill Deli. Appetizers are dirt cheap, all of which won’t cost more than $5.99. Sandwiches are all $6.99 or under. Main entrees never exceed $9.99 unless you want the grilled salmon and tilapia and even that is reasonably priced at just $11.99.

The Verdict

College Hill Deli is a prime example of an exceptional continental-Mediterranean fusion restaurant.

The food is tasty, rich, portioned generously, and is served with a variance which is refreshing in a town which has more than a few one-trick pony eating establishments.

Most important it is the Deli’s staggering variety of dishes. In a way their menu serves as a microcosm for the chromatic profusion of cultures represented on College Hill in 2018.

As always, go and try for yourself. You will not be disappointed.