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authentic middle eastern food

hi everyone,

i have a mini-mission to find good, genuine middle eastern food in this city. i'm from dearborn, mi and i am middle eastern, so i'm sort of a food snob when it comes to this cuisine. i've been to balade and found it bland and not super-authentic. plus, i'm more used to dive-y middle eastern restaurants anyway. i've also been to mamoun's and kebab garden and had the falafel and chicken schwarma, respectively... again, not quite. i'm looking for a place that has a broad menu that does the standards (fattoush, tabbouleh, hummus, babaganoush, pilaf, kibbi, dolma, lentil soup, chicken and lamb schwarma, lamb kebab, etc) and does them well. i'm more than willing to trek to queens or brooklyn, but if you know places in manhattan, that'd be awesome.

thanks so much!

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  1. Gazala Place - authentic Druse food
    Beyoglu - Turkish mezze restaurant

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    Beyoglu
    200 E 81st St, New York, NY 10028

    Gazala Place
    709 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

    1. If you have made it from Dearborn, you can make it to Brooklyn. Ask on the Outer Boroughs board.

      1. I am by no means an expert on the cuisine of the Middle East but you could look into Taboon on 10th. It is quite good and touches on most of the things you are looking for.

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        Taboon
        773 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10019

        1. Try Moustache. The food is wonderfully fresh and bright, and I always have a sense that each dish was made by someone who really cares about what's being sent out into the dining room. I'm partial to the East Harlem location (Lex at 102).

          2 Replies
          1. re: big o

            I have given Moustache a couple chances and really didn't care for it. It seemed more like a vague interpretation of Middle-Easterny food than the actual thing. IIRC they didn't even have yogurt in the restaurant the last time I was there.

            You're not going to find a lot of the subtle complexities of well-made Levantine food in Manhattan. For what it's worth, I like most of what I've had at ilili and Naya, particularly their kibbe bi laban. The boureki I've had at Beyoglu beat any fatayer I've had and the hummus bi tahini is very good at Hummus Place. Tabbouleh is a very idiosyncratic dish, one I prefer homemade along with kibbeh qrass.

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            Beyoglu
            200 E 81st St, New York, NY 10028

            Naya
            1057 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10022

            1. re: JungMann

              Have to agree, Moustache isn't going to cut it.

          2. If you're from Dearborn the only place guaranteed to knock your socks off is Tanoreen. It's all over the Outer Boroughs board.

            http://petercherches.blogspot.com

            2 Replies
            1. re: Peter Cherches

              I second Tanoreen. Authentic, but more importantly it is FANTASTIC. Blows away anything in Manhattan. I know this is the wrong board, but it is the true answer to this question!

              1. re: Peter Cherches

                Tanoreen is the place for authentic Middle Eastern food - hands down.

              2. If you are from Dearborn, it all depends on whether you are willing to compromise. :) Except for a couple Israeli-style hummus places (such as Taim), you will probably have to go to the outer boroughs.
                I suggest you take a stroll along Steinway in Queens for good N African/Arabic food, especially if you speak Arabic! I also tend to think Wafa's in Forest Hills, Queens is one under-appreciated Lebanese restaurant, a gem in the dirt.

                3 Replies
                1. re: diprey1

                  Byblos on 39th just East of 3rd Ave is as authentic Syrian/Lebanese as I have found in Manhattan.
                  In Brooklyn I like Tripoli on Atlantic and Clinton St and Tanoreen or Sally and Georges in Bay Ridge.
                  All have authentic Syrian/Lebanese food like my grandfather (jidagh) made at his Syrian grocery store on Atlantic Av in Brooklyn.

                  1. re: Motosport

                    I second Moto's recommend of Byblos (plus they're really good people, the owners) and, contradictorily, the fact that you'll really be much better off finding (more of) what you need in the Queens and B'klyn threads.

                    EDIT: It bears mention -although it's almost calumny to say it here- that you might also find some good places in Jersey, too. The demographics basically command it.

                    1. re: Phil Ogelos

                      I have seen good reviews of a restaurant called Naya but have not been there. It seems a little too "upscale" for my simple tastes.
                      One of my criteria for "authentic" Syrian/Lebanese is if the restaurant makes Kibbee nayeh. (raw lamb tartare) Byblos and my recs in Brooklyn have it but you won't find it at any of the Turkish style Mediteranean places.

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                      Naya
                      1057 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10022

                2. Yemen Cuisine on Court St. Between Pacific and Atlantic. You walk through the door and are immediately transported to Yemen. Truly awesoms

                  1. It involves a shlep out to Queens, but Sabry's is my favorite middle eastern place in the city, hands down. I love it even more than Tanoreen. They specialize in fish, done Egyptian style, and their tagines are to die for.

                    1. If you like the Lebanese take on things, try Ilili. The pomegranate chicken livers, caramelized warm eggplant, raw kibbe, lamb kebab and pita are all well made. Fattoush, tabbouli and hummus are ok. They also have Middle Eastern chewy ice cream.

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                      Ilili
                      236 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001

                      1. i'm lebanese and italian. love this place. i think you will also

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                        Naya
                        1057 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10022

                        1. Tanoreen in BayRidge is indeed amazing. I also love Nomad in the East Village-2nd avenue by 4th has North African influenced food.

                          1. If you're looking for kibbeh nayeh ilili is the place to go. Maybe I'm biased because I'm a beiruti but theirs kicks butt.

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                            Ilili
                            236 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: astarte

                              From their menu it appers that the kibbeh nayeh is made from beef (steak). A small sacriledge in my book.

                            2. Gazala Place or the Outer Boroughs board really can point you in the right direction. Places like Mimi's Hummus are getting solid reviews, and there are little districts with Lebanese/Mid-Eastern shops like on Atlantic. Queens also has streets which are nothing but hookah hangouts, sweet shops, and schwarma stands.

                              For Falafel and those standards,inside Manhattan, your best bets at the moment are Israeli places (but avoid Taim, or it's sister establisment, as you won't be happy there). I'll suggest Soom Soom. They blow Mamoun's away.

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                              Gazala Place
                              709 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                              Soom Soom
                              166 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sugartoof

                                You should check out Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn - lots of middle eastern restaurants and shops. Waterfalls is my favorite restaurant there.

                              2. I second two of the responses. Tanoreen in Bayridge is worth the trip. Take a walk down by the river later. Yes--Nomad in the East Village is super charming. They even have a belly dancer and music there on Thursdays.