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Wonderful Lebanese in Forest Hills- Please Support Wafa's!

I recently discovered a hole-in-the-wall off of 72nd Ave and Metropolitan in Forest Hills. An extremely friendly woman owns this wonderful find; an authentic Lebanese kitchen. I say kitchen because that's really all there is; you can see her pots as she prepares the food right in front of you.

There are only 2 tables and a few chairs by the window with a limited menu. However, the food on the limited menu is divine. Thick, creamy hummus sprinkled with paprika and drizzled with olive oil. Freshly baked kibbe; bulghar dough with a lamb and pine nut filling. Sensuous baked eggplant with pomegranate juice and olive oil. She also offers meat pies and other goodies that seem to rotate (I didn't taste them but yesterday it looked like she had a tomato tinged pilaf, stuffed cabbage and some other stuff).

Each time I have gone to Wafa's it is pretty empty. For anyone in Forest Hills or nearby who would love to try authentic Lebanese, please support this great find and spread the word!

Note: The only thing I hope she improves upon is her choice of pita bread. She uses a store bought brand that is very thin and dry.

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  1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/586020

    did you see this thread? We've been going regularly for the last couple weeks, getting takeout.

    1. We've walked by it a few times (just down the street) and wondered about it. That storefront has been about 5 things in the past few years. Thanks for the post; I'm going to check it out.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jennielap

        got some nice tabouleh tonight. It's $5 for a large stuffed 1/2 lb container. If you want it filled less it's $3, I think. They have a $7.95 lunch special there. It's a tiny place.

        1. re: janie

          I stopped by Wafas this week. I had her make me up a small sample of what she had in the steam table...eggplant, hummus,etc. Also had chicken in a pita and a diet coke. Everything was great, and I think it was $10.00. She was nice as can be. Reccomended.

          1. re: daveyj

            I tried this place tonight after reading the positive posts. It's SOOO yummy!!!
            I think the lamb gyro was about $7 or $8 and it's huge! Definitely enough to share. the tabouleh and baba ganoush are really good. and the baklava is to die for!! Well worth the calories.

      2. I felt so lucky to be able to taste Wafa's homestyle cooking- The Falafel was a rich blend of spicy, fresh and nutritious foods that moved my imagination way beyond this tiny restaurant's simple decor to the beauty of the Middle East. I found myself guarding my silence so that I didn't miss a culinary note. Her meat dish, Fusilli, consisted of a fantastic combination of lamb, beef, red beans that was rich and hearty. It left me wanting more. Wafa makes my food experience fun by challenging me to figure out how she created her perfumed baklava (hint: rose water). One of the patrons seemed to be embarassed at how much he loved Wafa's creations especially her chicken dish...What's nice too is that this restaurant is near to Eddie's (Homemade) Ice Cream Shop and other fun places, the Brightwater Gallery, the Cinemart Movie theatre, and the Sedona gym to work off all of those fantabulous calories!!!!!!

        3 Replies
        1. re: xio

          Just came back from Wafa's. Had the grape leaves, lamb shwarma and chicken shwarma. Delicious! And I usually do not like grape leaves because they are usually cold with hard rice in the middle, Wafa's version were warm and tasty. The chicken shwarma is big, the lamb is a little bit more moderate in size. Only concern is that since this place is a one woman show, she'll have a hard time keeping up if she gets really busy. Other thing to note is the delicious aroma of the food will stay in your clothes when you leave.

          1. re: judamazome

            tried the grape leaves on Friday, and yes, they are very good. The hummus is good too. She mentioned she would try to get chairs to sit outside when it's warmer if a permit is possible. Austin Street is so bleak for food, too bad the rents are so ridiculously high because she would probably get a lot of exposure there. She needs some kind of sign on the corner of that block, so people will walk up it.

            1. re: janie

              I went again on saturday night and the place was packed. All seats were full.

        2. I just had lunch here with 2 friends and we all loved it. The food was simply delicious. We had a little tasting of hummus, okra, eggplant salad, 2 different type of wheat salads, stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie and falafel -- everything was perfectly seasoned and very fresh. The desserts were also outstanding. Just as charming was the cook and hostess herself Ms. Wafa. I highly recommend this place -- you won't be disappointed.

          1 Reply
          1. re: choclitarian

            Just had takeout from there, there are only 2-3 tables. Very nice, wheat germ w/onions and taboule. A great option for the area

          2. This is a class operation; she cooks with love, from her heart. It's evident in every bite.

            The food we took out from Wafa tonight all had very simple, subtle flavors. Nothing to prove. The falafel sandwich was an outstanding combination of flavors, textures, very nice. The hummus is very creamy, with an understated taste compared to, say, Hummus Place in the East Village (perhaps Wafa's is more representative of a typical Lebanese approach?). The cheese pie was outstanding - I think I even caught a trace of mint in there. If anything was the weak link here, it was the beef pie; still, in all, that was pretty good too. My wife went ga-ga over the tabouleh, said it was some of the best she's tasted in years. On top of all this, the home-made baklava was sensational. The proprietress joked that we'd polish them off in a day. It was more like an hour. I could grope at describing the taste, but what's the point: Just try the stuff and you'll see.

            Alas, I'm in agreement about the pita. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but imagine how good all this stuff would be spread on something better.

            Thanks to Nicole for this post. I have to admit - living in this neighborhood - that when I see raves for a local place on this board, I've gotten into the habit of writing them off as enthusiasm brought on by wishful thinking and all-around desparation. But Wafa's the real thing.
            P.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Polecat

              I think I was there the same time as you today, around 6:30pm? If that's your baby in the pic, then I saw your wife sitting in the chair in back, and you in a hat on the phone? I ran in and got some Tabouleh quickly, and then dashed over to Five Guys to grab some fries for my toddler to try. Next time you go to Wafa's, if she's got the tilapia and lentils, try that, it's really great. I always enjoy your posts, so I'm glad to have sort of vicariously "met" you.

              1. re: janie

                You got me dead to rights, janie. That was me. Thanks for the tip on the tilapia dish. I'd also like to give the shawarma a shot, as well as other stuff.
                p.

              2. re: Polecat

                Funny you mention the pita. I thought the same thing. Everything was excellent...but the pita. Its sorta like D'angelos sausage and pepper truck on Woodhaven. It would be soooo much better on a softer bread,

                1. re: daveyj

                  Next time I'm there, I'm going to mention to Wafa about the pita---don't see why she couldn't at least have the fluffy Queens Pita from Main Street...the only problem is it lasts one day, tops. But, they must deliver because Carmel sells it. I'll give her the number and see what she thinks...

                  1. re: daveyj

                    which truck is better? D'Angelos or the Hot dog truck?

                    1. re: bigjeff

                      Two totally different animals. D'angelos is sausage and peppers, Dominicks is hot dogs. They are practically next to each other. Get a dog at Dominicks and then a S/P at D'angelos.

                      1. re: daveyj

                        funny, we were driving past and my friend mentioned a rivalry; doing some research:

                        http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2008/0...

                        yielded that its actually husband and wife each running each truck; funny!

                2. I stopped by today for lunch and thought I'd join in the chorus of people complimenting the food and proprietress. I had a great falafel. Also picked up some grape leaves which were delicious. I really enjoyed the hummus, but prefer mine a little thicker and with garlic. It's a great addition to the neighborhood, and touching on what Polecat said, it's good food by NYC standards, not just Forest Hills. (I say this coming from Brooklyn Heights, where I was a regular at the local Middle Eastern joints.)

                  1. seeked this place out because of this thread and very happy I did; went recently and managed to snag one of two tables (there is also a small counter) and Wafa is incredibly sweet, and also seems to have the entire community behind her! Someone in there was a regular or a friend and went to buy romaine for her, stuff like that. between 3 of us, we split:

                    + freshly baked spinach pies (we had to wait about 15 minutes for them to come out)
                    + a $5 combo plate of hummus/tabouleh
                    + full plate of her eggplant dish (chickpeas, tomato, etc.)
                    + wheat germ with lentils and onion
                    + freshly baked meat pie

                    I think that's all we had, I can't remember, but the menu is simple; you can just get whatever is at hand. it is amazing that she makes so much of the stuff to order and by hand behind that counter; incredibly sweet woman as we chatted with her while she made the pies. the eggplant was excellent; cooked through but still with structure, great sweet taste. the tabouleh was great and was the hummus; she was out of baba at the time. there were about 20 grape leaves in the fridge case but she said they were all paid for by someone so we couldn't sample those. the spinach pie was great; looked quite plain but there was a freshness and homemade quality that was phenomenal. no cheese in the pie, just fresh spinach and herbs, maybe some other vegetation but I couldn't tell. The meat pie was underwhelming, sorta doughy open face thing; prefer a lamucan so much more.

                    as mentioned, everything was garnished beautifully, homestyle yet classy enough for any restaurant; she probably makes everything on the menu on any given day but it just depends what time you get there since she must be making everything herself and it is definitely a labor of love. overall, the food is quite good, underseasoned if anything but there is a fine hot sauce which really pepped up all the dishes we had.

                    didn't try the falafel but it comes as a wrap inside that pita (it is definitely not awesome pita, more like a big 10 or 12" diameter generic thin thing) but you know, the food itself is so good I don't mind the starch is whatever.

                    definitely great for the hood but it just seemed somewhat timid in certain ways, almost like the sweet personality of Wafa made it into the food, so the food is delicate and not like super robust, super spicy or strongly-flavored, which, sometimes this type of food can be (and I usually prefer my food that way in general).

                    regardless, check the place out!

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: bigjeff

                      Love the Wafa's. I recommend the hummus; wheat germ w/ lentils, onion and tabbouleh; grape leaves (with potato slices); and some bakalava for desert. Wafa is a very cool lady .

                      1. re: sd187

                        Just returned from a great meal at Wafa's. Wafa is a very engaging woman. You can sample the items before you decide. We each had a bowl of soup. Chicken noodle or Lentil. Both delicious. Then some hummus and some babaganoush. Great place. Inexpensive...Very eboullient lady... Worth a visit....

                        1. re: E.Kantro

                          Had the pleasure of eating at Wafa's last night. What a gem! The food is extremely fresh & Wafa is so personable. It's like eating in a friend's kitchen. She had us sample the tabouleh, grape leaves, wheat germ with lentils & okra. We ordered mousabaha (eggplant/chickpea "dip"), meat pie, spinach pie, falafel & lamb shawerma. Everything was delicious. Took home baklava & rice pudding for dessert. (WOW) Extremely reasonable at $32 for the two of us. (Brought our own wine.) We will return & we urge you to GIVE IT A TRY! You won't be disappointed.

                      2. re: bigjeff

                        bigjeff-
                        Ask her to make your food spicy and she will. We've asked for "spicy'' shwarma and it was just right. This is forest hills, so in general things are a bit bland to satisfy the local taste (unlike corona or jackson heights). But if you ask, it'll be spicy and delicious!

                        1. re: liqdstar

                          This place is seriously good. Had the mousabaha, spinach pie and lamb shawerma. All were excellent. Everything is made fresh that day. It was a real treat to have such tasty, fresh, homemade Middle Eastern food that wasn't overly garlicky or salty. And the baklava is nice and light and comes with rose water syrup. I hope this business thrives. The area really needs more places like this.

                          1. re: queenseats

                            I am going to go here for lunch today. I have been craving good Lebanese/Arabic food since moving to Queens from Dearborn, MI which is undoubtedly (in my opinion) the best place in the US for Arabic food. I am hoping this place is as good as everyone says it is as I am really missing good Arabic food.

                            1. re: TaraDLS

                              I tried the okra the other day- YUM. Also, my friend who is Moroccan swore she made the best kibbe he has ever had.
                              Unfortunately she is still using the thin, dry pita...

                              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                You will never find fluffy pita for sandwiches in a Lebanese place, they all use large diameter, thin bread.