Our 10 Best Middle Eastern Restaurants

Categories: Our 10 Best

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Alexia Nader
A Middle Eastern spread of olives, falafel, labneh, and hummus at Tripoli

New York City has a lot to offer when it comes to Middle Eastern cooking. If you know where to stop for a meal along the city's few Arab strips or even in fancy neighborhoods, you'll find a wide range of the region's typical cooking including grilled meats, honey-drenched pastries, savory flatbreads, and bright, beautiful meze platters. I've been able to find traditional dishes in this city on par with those my Lebanese grandmother makes and ones I've tried in Jordan and Egypt. And the city even holds its own on the falafel and kebab front despite some serious competition in the Middle East and Europe. Below you'll find my 10 favorite sit-down and takeout Middle Eastern spots in NYC.


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Note the delicate pita at Gazala's

10. Gazala's -- At this Druze Israeli restaurant, located on the Upper West Side, you'll find the kitchen staff hand-rolling kibbeh at tables hidden in the back of the dining room, and freshly made bread that's stretchy, thin, and more like South Asian roti than the pita found in most Middle Eastern restaurants. Use it to scoop up lemony tahini and thinly sliced grilled lamb -- one of the best entrées on the menu. 380 Columbus Avenue, 212-873-8880


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Alexia Nader

9. Moustache -- Much has been written about this West Village restaurant's flatbreads, but the best dish on the menu is also the most ordinary sounding -- grilled chicken over lentil puree. These are no ordinary lentils: They're softened and mashed until velvety and spiced with plenty of garlic and a drizzle of potent olive oil. Though it might be hard to resist the lamb sandwiches and fancy pitzas, this plate won't let you down. 90 Bedford Street, 212-229-2220


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Alexia Nader
Stuffed grape leaves at Tripoli

8. Tripoli/Damascus Breads & Pastry -- Located on an Arab restaurant-dense strip of Atlantic Avenue, Tripoli has an endearingly old-school feel -- the walls are covered in dark wood, the ceiling is painted to look like the sky, and the menu specializes in Lebanese home cooking. Make sure to try the wara'anib, tight cigars of grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb and rice served warm with a bit of lemony broth. Then for dessert, head across the street to Damascus Breads & Pastry, a Syrian bakery, and pick up some first-rate walnut or pistachio baklava for the road. Tripoli (156 Atlantic Avenue, 718-596-5800), Damascus Breads & Pastry (195 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-625-7070)


Location Info

Gazala

380 Columbus Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Moustache Pitza

90 Bedford St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Tripoli

156 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Category: Restaurant

Damascus Breads & Pastry

195 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Category: General

Alfanoose

8 Maiden Lane, New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Taim

222 Waverly Place, New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Tanoreen

7523 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Category: Restaurant

Cedars Meat House

41-08 30th Ave., Long Island City, NY

Category: Restaurant

Kabab Café

25-12 Steinway St., Long Island City, NY

Category: Restaurant


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13 comments
esmahan
esmahan

Hi,

I am visiting NYC are staying near the wall st area could you please recommend any nice middle eastern places to eat out. Many Thanks (all the way from England,UK

bloomer.jeffrey
bloomer.jeffrey

In what universe is Taboon spacious? That said, second the rec! The tzatziki there is so, so fantastic. Also Taim -- sabich all the way! 

joerge henk
joerge henk

Makkah Market is a Middle East restaurant that provides their products24 hours online, with an assurance of making it simple to get those hard tofind ingredients.

 

Middle East restaurant

 

Hailey Eber
Hailey Eber

What about the amazing Mimi's Hummus in Ditmas Park? Bummer not to have that adorable, delicious destination but include good-but-not-great picks like Tripoli and Moustache

Msehwail
Msehwail

You forgot the Yemeni restaurants, which in this city with fairly terrible Levantine offerings, are probably the best Middle Eastern restaurants.

Grace
Grace

Gazala's is on the Upper West Side, not the UES.

rebeccaa
rebeccaa

This list is very limited. If Middle Eastern means Syrian or Egyptian, sure, go by this list- there is no Turkish, no Persian. No Moroccan. What the heck?

Alexia Nader
Alexia Nader

Do you have a favorite Yemeni restaurant? There are a few on Atlantic Ave. but I have by no means tried them all. 

Alexia Nader
Alexia Nader

Hi Rebeccaa, I appreciate your comment, but I took a more traditional definition of the Middle East, which doesn't include Turkey or Iran. I realize, though, that some people consider these countries part of the greater Middle East. But it's my list so I get to choose the rules. I would make a whole separate list of Turkish restaurants in the city--because there are so many of them and they are so good. Stay tuned!

Jai Mutabbal
Jai Mutabbal

Well, you've made a lot of Euro-fetish Turks happy by excluding them from your list of Middle Eastern restaurants, but to claim Turkey is traditionlly excluded from deinitions of the Mideast betrays a grotesque ignorance of geography, history, and the cultures of both Turkey and the Middle East. As for Persian, the category is woefully unimpressive in NYC. Do yourself a favor and retitle your piece, best Levantine cuisine. Btw, you omitted Karam in Bay Ridge.

Nick Carraway
Nick Carraway

I was always under the impression if you called a turk an arab he'd hit you in the face and let you know he was Turkish and same with a Persian, but why don't you all get off your self-righteous asses and realize that even if they included those in the list they still would not make the list because when it comes to superior foods of the region Lebanese lands on top every time.

Alexia Nader
Alexia Nader

You are right Jai, "traditional" was the wrong word. I should have said "narrow." I'm sorry if it was upsetting to you. 

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