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Sep 3, 2013 01:32 AM

Best Lebanese in Orange County?

Anyone have any opinions? I'm based in Newport, so the closer the better, but, in truth, I'll go anywhere!

Thanks for the tips

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  1. My favorite is Zait and Zataar. Their chicken schwarma, falafel, hummus, fattoush salad, lebneh and little mini baked goods are all great. The garlic sauce that comes with the chicken schwarma plate is up there with Zankou (pre-industrial version). They make all their own pizzas and baked pies in a gas oven. All come highly recommended.

    It's a small joint with about 4 tables inside a few others outside. My wife will not let us come here if its over 75 degrees. That oven is always on and there is no AC so it gets hot in the store.

    4 Replies
    1. re: js76wisco

      Definitely will have to try it. Sounds really good.

      1. re: js76wisco

        I really like this place. The sojouk baked thing is greasy but man is it good. cheap too. That whole area in anaheim is loaded with amazing arabic/Middle Eastern food. Lots of exploring to be done there. Olive Tree isn't Lebanese (they have a lot of the same schwarma type stuff but I always get the amazing daily specials) but it's so good I plug it every chance I get.

        1. re: BrewNChow

          I love that Anaheim area but in all honestly I get overwhelmed. So many places, so many dishes I have never tried. But I've heard lots of good things about Olive Tree, so I'll check that out after Zait and Zataar.

          1. re: set0312

            My favorites at OT are the lamb freekeh (Friday only) and the lamb Kabsa (Saturday)

      2. It's not close to you, but I am partial to Les Amis in Fullerton.

        1 Reply
        1. re: stuffed

          I'll give it a try! My girlfriend is in Yorba Linda so I'm actually up there all the time.

        2. I recently discovered the obscure Cafe Matinee in Lake Forest, even though it's been there for 11 years. Tried the falafel platter, and it beat my standard-bearer, Mamoun's in NYC.

          The falafel is a house-made coarse-ground mix of fava and garbanzos. The coarse texture gives it great texture after it's fried. There's also no parsley in the mix.

          According to the owner Suzane, no-parsley falafel is traditional in Lebanon. Supposedly doesn't give you gas and make you feel bloated. That might be true. I ate a platter big enough as a starter for two all by myself.

          They do everything in-house, including curing their own olives in salt. Not sure they bake their own pitas though - it didn't taste like they did.

          Next time, I'm trying their shawarma. I'm told it and the falafel are their top 2 selling items.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Professor Salt

            Wow I'll definitely check this out. Thanks for the heads-up.

            Never knew about the no parsley but no gas and no bloating sounds fantastic to me.

            I'm in the Lake Forest area a fair amount due to work, any other suggestions around there?

            1. re: set0312

              Across the parking lot is Nina's Indian & British Grocery. It's a great place for grocery stuff, but they also have an Indian restaurant in the back that's pretty solid. Not a destination restaurant, but a decent and easy choice for Indian in Lake Forest. I still prefer Annapoorna in Irvine for my Indian fix in this area.

              Taco Stop for a hole in the wall taqueria. Stay away from the picture menu. Choose from the printed menu on the counter right by the register (ie tacos, tortas, and burritos - that's what they excel at). Definitely sample the home-made salsas on ice. If you like heat, try the pineapple-habanero "relish".

              Slater's 50/50 is also in this area, if you're feeling like an expensive gourmet burger + craft beer.

          2. I would suggest Zena's Mediterranean & Lebanese Cuisine in Orange. I really enjoy their baba ghanoush, fried cauliflower, and hummus. They also have a spectacular raw lamb or beef kibbeh that is off menu, but you have to order it at least 1 day in advance since he gets it from the butcher the same day.

            Zena's Mediterranean & Lebanese Cuisine
            2094 N Tustin St
            Ste C2
            Orange, CA 92865
            (714) 279-9511

            1. Olive Tree is definitely my favorite spot in So Cal. Their falafels are the best!! They have lots of other amazing dishes as well. And the bakery next door has yummy baklava and maamouls.

              Cafe Matinee in Lake Forest is good for their mezze. I enjoy their hummus, fattoush salad, and kibbeh.