Elad Greenvald has been a familiar face in Taos for many years.
After completing his military service in Israel, where he was born and raised, Elad decided travel outside of his homeland was the anecdote he needed post-army.
He came to Taos because of other Israeli’s (he knew) who had come here over the years. Some stayed, some came and went (and still do) and others merely passed through. But Taos has clearly been on (Israel/Palestine’s) map for some time.
We have a vibrant Palestinian community settled here as well.
Perhaps our mountain town reminds them of their mountains. Without the constant war. When I first met him, Elad for a while worked at an Israeli-owned establishment called the Sheva Cafe. My son, Joshua worked there at the time. I remember Elad as a very beautiful young man, with the kindest blue eyes I had ever looked into. His energy was positively angelic.
He left to go back home at some point and when I next saw him, he had matured into manhood and had returned with his lovely young wife, Nataya, a 7th Generation Israeli whose family had come from Spain in the time of the Kabbalists.
They had opened their new restaurant (El Gamal) in a food truck parked at the Overland Sheepskin Complex, and every day at lunchtime, the outdoor seating area was packed. Obviously this was prime in the warmer months but as the weather turned cold, not too many people were willing to sit outside.
Elad and Nataya began to look for a more permanent home to park their Ship of the Desert.
Soon the Camel blazed on the roof of the old Mainstreet Bakery premises.
“Our vision was to provide healthy, affordable, tasty, made from scratch, vegetarian Middle Eastern (and World cuisine), with the intent to promote peace in a non political manner through evolving people’s consciousness and taste buds.” Says Elad.
“We travel very long distances to find flavors, spices and products so we can make your food in the most authentic way,” he adds.
El Gamal has also created a community space; family and kid friendly with a room full of toys, costumes and fun for kids so families can enjoy a nice meal while the kids play.
El Gamal also provides the restaurant space for all sorts of classes, teachings and events – from Kabbalah and Hebrew classes to late night parties with DJs and live music.
There is also a pool table free to use by their patrons in an adjoining room. All these perks aside, El Gamal is all about the food. And the breads – challah, bagels and pita (regular and gluten-free) all made with organic, locally sourced flour and made on the spot in the bakery at the back of the restaurant.
The menu is extensive and has a huge selection of Middle Eastern vegetarian favourites from hummus (they boast a hummus bar with several varieties) to falafel with everything in between. But it’s their breakfasts that are truly the star of the show.
Breakfast is served all day; organic eggs can be substituted for an extra 75c each and do yourself a favour and step out of the American breakfast box and try one of their other offerings. The Israeli breakfast features 2 Eggs Any Style, Israeli Salad, Feta, Labane, Tahini, Olives, Jam, Pita and Shakshuka is a favourite of many regulars at the restaurant. Eggs Poached Over Tomato Casserole, With Israeli Salad, Tahini & Challa Roll