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Updated Thoughts on Middle Eastern in the Atlantic Ave Area?

BillyBob Dec 28, 2012 09:36 AM

We used to order from and go to Waterfalls a lot but then it seemed to go downhill, then we ordered in from Fatoosh and it was reliable and good - but not great, then Fountain closed and they turned it into some kind of hooka joint. I just ordered in from Darna on Court and was pleasantly surprised (the falafel was particularly well done, chicken over rice was OK but suffered from an longer than expected delivery time). Was wondering if you all had any updated views on the best Middle Eastern places these days in the area.

  1. f
    fishermb Dec 28, 2012 03:30 PM

    I agree on Waterfalls and miss the old Fountain, I tend to go with Fatoosh as my standby, it's well-priced, tasty, not too heavy and the delivery is always pretty quick. I periodically try different dishes from all the other places and never found any dishes that won me over from Fatoosh.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fishermb
      jon Dec 28, 2012 08:32 PM

      We had stopped ordering from waterfalls because the food had gone downhill but we recently started up again and it has definitely gotten better. Portions are a little skimpy for the price but we like it better than the other places on Atlantic.

      1. re: jon
        John Francis Jan 11, 2013 10:39 AM

        I agree - they seem to have changed cooks again. In my last couple of visits (in December), the menu was unchanged but the cooking and presentation were good. Second best for me is Tripoli.

    2. p
      Pan Jan 3, 2013 02:33 AM

      Do you like Yemeni food? I haven't been to Yemen Cafe in a few months but always liked it. Some of the "appetizers" are actually what I consider main dish portions. The lamb livers, the eggs, the foul and the fassolia are all really good, and if you want a main dish, get any lamb dish; I love the lamb chops. If you don't feel like having lamb, the loubia with chicken is my favorite chicken dish there, and they always have a special broiled fish dish, but I find that they char more of the fish than I like (also sometimes a bit of a problem with the lamb chops, but only at the margins, and they give such a huge portion of good, flavorful meat that I'm OK with it).

      I've actually liked Waterfalls but I didn't go there during what hounds considered its heyday (I started going 2-3 years ago, I think, and the last time was several months ago). I liked Fountain, too; their shawarma was very flavorful. I've been to Fatoosh once and may have ordered wrong; I forget what I ordered, but I wasn't overwhelmed.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Pan
        parkslopemama Jan 16, 2013 01:10 PM

        In addition to Yemen Cafe (176 Atlantic Ave.), I also like Yemen Cuisine (145 Cort Street near Atlantic).

        1. re: parkslopemama
          JungMann Jan 16, 2013 01:39 PM

          What do you recommend at Yemen Cuisine? I've passed several times, but have yet to venture in.

          1. re: JungMann
            jon Jan 16, 2013 02:05 PM

            i think i read that yemen cuisine is closing and a bareburger is opening there

            1. re: jon
              fishermb Jan 16, 2013 06:04 PM

              I'm pretty sure someone jumped the gun on saying Yemen Cuisine is closing. There's 145A, 145B and 145C. 145A is where Yemen is. 145C is an empty space currently being renovated, I assume to be Bareburger. The SLA application only said 145 as the address, and whoever first reported the story didn't seem to actually investigate which space they're going into.

      2. waxyjax Jan 3, 2013 10:25 AM

        further down Court St. is Levant, which is great - I've only eaten in though and am not sure how their takeout is.

        6 Replies
        1. re: waxyjax
          Pan Jan 3, 2013 04:32 PM

          Is it a falafel/shawarma place or does it have a wider Lebanese menu?

          1. re: Pan
            waxyjax Jan 7, 2013 11:15 AM

            it's a sit-down restaurant with an extensive menu. they feature lebanese and jordanian dishes. i think i may have seen a couple syrian items, too.

          2. re: waxyjax
            lambretta76 Jan 7, 2013 05:39 PM

            We had a very bad delivery experience with Levant. Over an hour and 40 minutes. Person on the phone was unapologetic -- "our delivery guy doesn't have his bike tonight". Bleh.

            Wanted to write it off entirely, but darn if it wasn't pretty tasty. (Of course, anything hot had to be reheated.) Would not do delivery from there again, but the food was good enough that I'd pop in some time. The "pitzas" (ma'nouche type thingies) were all quite good, and the Syrian falafel may be tied with Kulushkat as the best I've had in the area.

            1. re: lambretta76
              waxyjax Jan 9, 2013 08:46 PM

              yikes. the delivery guy always seemed very spread thin whenever i've seen him come back exhausted from a run, only to pick up a larger quantity of orders than other delivery guys in the area. i think eating in or picking up is the way to go.

              1. re: waxyjax
                ChiefHDB Jun 18, 2013 04:47 AM

                Pretty sure Levant closed in the Spring.

                1. re: ChiefHDB
                  fishermb Jun 18, 2013 08:46 AM

                  Levant definitely closed a few months back

          3. Motosport Jan 3, 2013 10:35 AM

            I have always been a fan of Tripoli. It's kind of weird/dreary but the food is authentic Syrian/Lebanese and that's the most important to me.
            I am a big fan of Damascus bakery and their spinach and lamb pies.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Motosport
              Pan Jan 3, 2013 04:32 PM

              Damascus Bakery also has great desserts, including their mamoul. I haven't tried Tripoli yet.

              1. re: Pan
                jen kalb Jan 4, 2013 07:04 AM

                +1 on the mamoul, all types sampled

                if anyone knows of other excellent mamoul in Brooklyn I would love to hear about it.- Ive tried a couple places down on 5th Ave and they arent of Damascus' quality

                1. re: jen kalb
                  Motosport Jan 4, 2013 08:01 AM

                  Excellent Mamoul. I love the date variety.

                  1. re: Motosport
                    missmasala Jan 7, 2013 06:12 AM

                    The first time I ever had mamoul was from Damascus (the owner slipped one into my order one day, saying, "Try this delicious cookie.") After that I thought, "Wow, I really like mamoul" and starting trying them from other middle eastern bakeries, but I didn't really like them from other places. I have yet to find a place that makes mamoul like Damascus.

                    1. re: missmasala
                      Motosport Jan 7, 2013 08:48 AM

                      Damascus makes their own. Most places do not. In one store I saw boxes of mamoul from a Chicago area bakery.
                      Damascus is busy enough that they turn over inventory fast.

                      1. re: Motosport
                        JungMann Jan 7, 2013 11:41 AM

                        The ma'amoul are usually fresh and are a safe bet, but I haven't had much luck with the other sweets. Both goraibeh and knafeh are regular disappointments. While I love the savory baked goods at Damascus, it'd be great to have an alternative place for desserts. For right now, I have to subsist on the boxes and boxes of sweets I brought back from the Middle Eastern bakeries in Chicago, which are really stellar.

                  2. re: jen kalb
                    chocolatefancy Jan 10, 2013 06:39 PM

                    I like the mamoul at Oriental Grocery. I like most things there--they make it all, in the back.

                    1. re: chocolatefancy
                      Pan Jan 12, 2013 04:37 AM

                      I haven't shopped there lately, but I used to get excellent medjool dates from Israel there, and tasty Syrian pistachios (I'm guessing those might not be available anymore, for the moment).

                2. re: Motosport
                  Hydrin Jun 22, 2013 07:07 PM

                  You are right about Tripoli. A few years back a few friends and I stopped in for lunch. Food was authentic but no one in the restaurant at that hour spoke english. We ordered by pointing to what we wanted on the menu. It turned out be a enjoyable lunch.

                  You are right the place is dreary and weird.

                3. EJC Jan 5, 2013 06:49 AM

                  I really miss Waterfalls from the Wafa days. We probably ate there 3x/week. While Wafa's mother still cooks a few days a week, it's not the same.

                  Echoing what's been said, Fatoosh is our delivery spot, Damascus and Sahadis fill in for other foods (grapeleaves @ Damascus, baked kibbee @ Sahadis, etc).
                  We trek down to Bay Ridge for Tanoreen when I want to dine in somewhere.
                  Yemeni is always reliably fantastic, and Hadramount has a surprisingly great schwarma sandwich when the craving hits late at night.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: EJC
                    Pan Jan 5, 2013 07:18 AM

                    Anything else you like at Hadramout? I haven't eaten there yet.

                    1. re: Pan
                      EJC Jan 5, 2013 08:19 AM

                      We generally go up to Yemeni when we're in the mood for non-Levantine food. I might prefer the ghallaba at Hadramount, but my wife's bigger fan of Yemeni's salta.

                      To be honest, it's a place that was always a bit scary to visit and it required a few drinks to get inside. Drunk trips generally meant schwarma (which I believe is just their ghallaba wrapped in their homemade bread), so I don't have a ton of meal experience at Hadramount

                    2. re: EJC
                      chocolatefancy Jan 10, 2013 06:38 PM

                      We also miss Waterfalls from when Wafa was there. Wafa was very friendly. The menu has changed--A diner could choose stuffed cabbage with either bulgar or rice, the bulgar was so delicious, but it's no longer available Also the carrot salad is much less flavorful. These are only 2 examples but I loved the stuffed cabbage so much and carrot side so much.

                    3. j
                      jeeg Jan 10, 2013 12:08 PM

                      Of course Damascus and Sahadis are good for take out but for sit down I think the best in Brooklyn is in Bayridge-Tanoreen, Bab al Yemen etc

                      1. s
                        seb Jan 11, 2013 12:00 PM

                        A bit farther east on Atlantic is Bedouin Tent, which is my family's favorite. We've never been disappointed there and especially love the perfectly prepared chicken ouzi, which I think is just on Fri. nights or maybe just weekends.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: seb
                          waxyjax Jan 14, 2013 09:48 PM

                          i used to like it there but i had a weekday lunch a little while ago and everything was incredible bland. maybe they're not so on point during off-peak hours.

                          1. re: waxyjax
                            seb Jun 20, 2013 06:06 AM

                            hmmm, just had lunch there yesterday (a weekday) and it was as tasty as always. I brought someone with me who had never been before & she was very pleased as well.

                        2. v
                          vinouspleasure Jun 17, 2013 06:58 PM

                          a sad story, my family asked me what I wanted to do for father's day and after much thought, I settled upon driving from westchester into the heights, walking around our old nabe, lunch at the fountain, pastry from court st pastry and shopping @ damascus bakery.

                          I was so sad to see the fountain had closed, I'm sure btw the original and new owners I've eaten there over 100 times...from quick take out to dates to meals with our kids.

                          When I first moved into the heights, there must have 10-15 middle eastern restaurants on atlantic and court (near atlantic). Imo, yemen cafe is the only game left in town.

                          In the end we had a nice day, joya thai was good and the bakery stops were great. Actually, court pastry was about the best I've had there (and I've been there a lot). And nice that the owner of damascus continues to recognize me even though I'm in just twice a year.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: vinouspleasure
                            Peter Jun 19, 2013 11:34 AM

                            Vinouspleasure, I'm curious -- what years did you live in the Heights?

                            1. re: vinouspleasure
                              Motosport Jun 19, 2013 01:22 PM

                              Funny, the Damascus Bakery owners knows me by name too even though I am only there a few times a year. My family is from that neighborhood.
                              We go to Tripoli. It's a little funky but they cook just like my "Jidoh" (grandpa). We are always satisfied.

                              1. re: Motosport
                                JungMann Jun 19, 2013 01:35 PM

                                Damascus Bakery is my favorite kind of old-school neighborhood business. They know their community, are ever-ready for a neighborly chat in Arabic, English or French and eager to make you feel like a part of their extended family. They are a simply charming combination of Middle Eastern hospitality and small town friendliness. Last time I was there I was counting my carbs and asked for just a couple kousa mahshi but they told me "No, my friend, you need to eat! Here's 4," without charging me extra.

                                1. re: JungMann
                                  Motosport Jun 19, 2013 01:55 PM

                                  My favorite Atlantic Ave bakery is long gone. It was the Near East Bakery and closer to Clinton St on the same side as Damascus. The bakery was below street level and the ovens were beneath the sidewalk. As a child I loved watching the loaves come out of the oven all puffed up like a big ball. As they cooled they flattened out.

                                  1. re: Motosport
                                    Steve R Jun 19, 2013 02:13 PM

                                    Near East was great. Every 5 years or so there's a rumor that it's going to re-open under new ownership but it never has. There's currently a similar rumor floating around. Although there's still a # of Middle East places around to shop and eat, I also miss Adnan and Almontasser (these spellings cant be correct). I havent set foot in Tripoli for over 15 years... too many bad meals (not fresh food, poor service, uncaring & even depressing). Has it picked up?

                                    And, by the way Motosport, our recent visit to the North Fork was highlighted by Comtesse Therese (a wonderful dinner, very friendly chef) and we also liked the bar area at Legends. Just sayin'.... I know you've recommended them.

                                    1. re: Steve R
                                      Motosport Jun 19, 2013 02:58 PM

                                      We keep it simple at Tripoli and are always satisfied. Any Middle Eastern restaurant that serves Kibbe Nayeh I consider authentic. Al Bustan and Byblos in Manhattan are two places we love.
                                      Comtesse Therese has the best French onion soup and crème brulee I have ever had. An amazing restaurant and not out of sight expensive.
                                      Legend's is another favorite.
                                      Adnan and Almontasser were two Yemeni favorites when I lived in the area.

                                  2. re: JungMann
                                    linda313 Jun 20, 2013 06:20 AM

                                    I've had similar experiences . . . was out running one morning and developed a craving for ma'amoul; I ducked into Damascus Bakery to pick up a couple, and when I found myself short of cash, the owner told me not to worry. I thanked him profusely, promised to repay him, and he waved me off. (I think he was genuinely surprised when I showed up the next day with the money I owed him.)

                                    1. re: linda313
                                      Motosport Jun 20, 2013 08:21 AM

                                      A very wise friend who owns a 7/11 store once gave me advice:
                                      When a regular client is a little short just tell them the coffee etc. is "On the house!"
                                      Human nature being what it is; if he says "Pay me next week" and the customer forgets he'll feel guilty and think the store owner is waiting impatiently for his $1.25. The embarrassed customer is more likely to go somewhere else for his morning "Joe!" and he loses a regular client.
                                      Good advice.

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