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has anyone tried the new Lebanese restaurant, Al Mayass, on W. 21st Street?

I live in the neighborhood and would like to take some foodie friends

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  1. Ditto!! I want to know too!

    1. Beautiful menu. BTW, it's on E. 21st (not W.), between B'way and Park.

      1. My masseuse went two weeks ago, in the place's earliest days, admittedly, and said the service was painfully slow. Good food, she said, but too long in coming. That may have changed by now -do tell, please, if it has.

        1. The menu seems a little pricey but we'll give it a try. I was disappointed that the stuffed grapeleaves were meatless. Traditional Syrian/Lebanese grapeleave have lamb.
          I heard that Byblos just reopened close by on Madison Ave. We love Middle Eastern food.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Motosport

            I've had Al Mayass on my "go to" list ever since I read that it would be opening in our neighborhood. Looking at the menu, I see it's got a huge selection of mezzes but a limited number of main course plates. I don't mind pricey if the food's excellent.

            I didn't know that about stuffed grapes leaves. The only ones I've had have been stuffed with rice. But I guess that's because they were in Turkish and Greek restaurants. I'm not a big fan of stuffed grape leaves, but Mr. R. likes them.


            1. re: RGR

              the food was good....the service not so good....the kitchen is way off on their timing.....there has already been a big turnover - even the host......I won't rush back

              1. re: John68

                Since I presume this was your first visit to Al Mayass, how do you know there's been "a big turnover"? And does that include in the kitchen? Or just the service staff?


              2. re: RGR

                Roz, my Syrian Jidah (grandfather) had a grocery store on Atlantic Av a block from Sahadi. He would also cook some hot food to sell. Fond memories for me.
                In the Syrian/Lebanese tradition stuffed grapeleaves, cabbage, squash and eggplant always had lamb, rice and spices. The Greeks and Turks do the meatless type.
                As a concession some Middle Eastern places (Tanoreen, ALBustan, Ilili) will offer both.
                I.M.H.O. an authentic Syrian/Lebanese restaurant has two things on the menu: Kibbe Nayeh and Grapeleaves stuffed with rice and lamb.
                It's all good!!

                1. re: Motosport

                  Not that I don't like rice, but I adore lamb, so maybe I'd like the grape leaves better stuffed with it along with the rice.


                  1. re: RGR

                    My favorite all time dish. My lovely wife makes them for my birthday!! Sometimes even for no particular reason.

            2. Greetings all,
              I want to take a new Assyrian flame to a unique resto and thought of this one; any new impressions of al.Mayass from the 'hounds?

              8 Replies
              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                I have not been able to get over there but it's on my list.
                I do have to ask a question: Is Al Mayass a poor choice of a name for a restaurant? Just saying.

                1. re: Motosport

                  Not quite sure where you've been, moto: in one post you've said you haven't been able to get to al.Mayass yet, in the next you say you prefer Byblos to it.
                  I wouldn't have perceived the (vulgar) anglicisation of the restaurant's name until you mentioned it. I always understood 'mayass' as meaning "walking with a lofty, proud gait".

                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                    Phil, if you have seen the movie Argo you will understand my comment on the name? I know what Al Mayass means in Arabic. I thought it was a poor choice. Same with Chevy's choice of Nova ("no go" in Espanol) for a car.
                    Actually after looking at their menu I think I'll skip it. It's not the authentic Syrian/Lebanese cuisine I enjoy.
                    Grapeleaves stuffed with lamb and Kibbe naya are missing from the menu. I only saw one lamb dish. The meat dishes were mostly beef. Their special was Filet Mignon.
                    I'll stick with Byblos which is 6 blocks closer to my home and Al Bustan to satisfy my Syrian taste buds.

                    1. re: Motosport

                      The menu is meant to reflect the type of food you'd find in the large Armenian Lebanese community in Beirut. They have their own versions of kibbeh, beoreg, lahm bi ajin, etc. which differ from the Arab recipes you're using for comparison.

                      Also meatless warak enab is perfectly legitimate, particularly for the fasting times on the Christian calendar.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        I'll bet the Armenian/Lebanese used lamb and not "Filet Mignon".
                        Meatless stuffed grapleaves are legit and usually served cold as an appetizer. I prefer them made with lamb and served hot. Byblos and Al Bustan serve them cold without lamb and hot with lamb.

                        1. re: JungMann

                          At this year's Holy Cross Armenian Food Festival in Union City, I sat at a communal table with an Armenian-American couple and their children. He works very close to Al Mayass and eats there regularly. Although there's little to distinguish the entrees, he said, from what one might find at many other restaurants, he thinks the starters are excellent.

                          Dave Cook

                  2. re: Phil Ogelos

                    I've been to Almayass once. The decor is quite nice and the food is good though the restaurant was nearly empty and service seemed tense.

                    I'd go back again though just for the food. I think Illili is hipper and livelier and the food is just as good there.

                    1. re: MrGrumpy

                      Illili definitely has a nice hip vibe and good food.
                      I prefer the more authentic Syrian/Lebanese dishes @ Byblos which is closer to home than Al Mayass.

                  3. I just looked at my "A Taste of Syria" cookbook (purchased at Sahadi's). "Grape Leaves Filled with Vegetables and Rice", Yabat Syamee, is listed as an appetizer and served at room temperature. "Grape Leaves Filled with Lamb and Rice", Yebrat, is listed as amain course, but they note it "is sometimes served as an appetizer, though it is traditionally served as a main meal with kibbeh nayeh, especially during the holidays." I grew up in the Midwest where our Syrian neighbors served kibbeh shaped and cooked like hamburger (made from ground lamb and cracked wheat; I've never been able to find that version in New York, maybe it was just an adaptation.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: GaryUES

                      With regard to the Yebrit: That's what I've been saying.
                      My Syrian grandpa explained that kibbe is made lots of ways:
                      Raw= Nayeh
                      On a scewer= Asirk
                      In a pan= Seniyah
                      Those are the ones I remember and I am sorry for the phonetic spelling which is probably wrong.
                      We also had the hamburger and meatball shaped kibbe.
                      All fabulous!!

                    2. Been there recently and it's pretty good. Definitely try the manti and all the kebabs are great. When I went, the place was packed and it has improved service since it's first 2 weeks of opening. As someone else mentioned, this is Lebanese-Armenian style so it's tough to do a straight comparison to regular Lebanese or Syrian restaurants. If anything, Almayass can spice things up a bit more, but otherwise there's some great food here.

                      1. yes, it is terrific. the decor is nothing special, and the service (plates, white tablecloths) doesn't feel modern. But the food is the best lebanese I've had in NYC.. Try it!! It's great.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jrrnyc

                          interesting ive wanted to try this place for a while, but haven't gotten around to it