Our 10 Best Middle Eastern Restaurants
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.
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
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
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)