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Where To Find NYC’s Top Middle Eastern Food

Memorable mezze, unparalleled falafel, and much more

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There’s no shortage of delectable Middle Eastern and Mediterranean meals to be had in NYC, for the most part scattered around the city rather than clustered into cultural enclaves. Whether it’s a big, boisterous group dinner where shareable plates reign supreme or a quick but truly satisfying take-out scenario, there’s an impressive roster of top notch destinations for exceptional food from Lebanon, Persia, Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, and more.

Some spots stick to faithfully concocted, authentic recipes passed down generations, while others explore multiple geographic areas’ cuisines on one menu — or even take a fusion approach, nodding at different culinary traditions in a single dish. Find reliable standbys like hummus and falafel executed in slightly different, nuanced ways at a number of the places outlined ahead, as well as harder-to-find dishes that are worth seeking out. Ahead, 19 great places in NYC to eat the best pita, kebabs, spreads, and much more.

Note: This map is arranged geographically, south through Manhattan and north through Brooklyn and Queens.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Ravagh Persian Grill

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1135 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10065
(212) 861-7900
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This Iranian-run Persian chainlet has five locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, three of which are in the NYC proper, all on the east side. Feast on delicious skewers of meat here: The barg kababs, featuring chunks of beef tenderloin, and jujeh kebabs, comprised of cornish hen marinated in lemon and saffron, come highly recommended. Nicely charred tomato and onion accompany the protein-rich entrees, and a range of soups, dips, stews, and noteworthy desserts are on offer as well. Further south, the original digs are in the Nomad area, while another outpost is in the East Village.

Ravagh Persian Grill via Facebook

2. Gazala's Place

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709 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 245-0709

Head here for a top-notch Druze menu — owner and chef Gazala Halabi is a member of the ancient Middle Eastern religious and cultural group that traces back to Roman times. Uniquely massive and incredibly thin pitas, cooked on top of a domed griddle, are a point of distinction for the cuisine. Juicy, herb-flecked ground beef and lamb sausage orbs served on fresh tomato sauce and sprinkled with pine nuts, called kafta, are a highlight, as are the borekas and various hummus iterations. Bonus: The place is BYOB.

Gazala’s Place Gazala’s Place via Yelp

3. Sip Sak

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928 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10022
(212) 583-1900
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This Turkish spot in Turtle Bay turns out delicious cacik, a garlicky yogurt sauce akin to tzatziki, and a worthwhile fried eggplant cubes dish. Entrees include kebabs, richly flavorful casserole-like dishes, and rice pilaf. Other highlights include hot yogurt soup and the thick yet airy bread for slathering with everything.

4. ILILI

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236 5th Ave
New York, NY 10001
(212) 683-2929
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Bigger and glitzier than most of this city’s excellent Middle Eastern establishments, Ilili serves memorable Lebanese dishes that more or less justify the steep prices. The Brussels sprouts with grapes, fig jam, walnuts, and mint yogurt, as well as the mekanek-spiced lamb sausages, are a must. The stellar ultra-smooth steak tartare, called kibbeh naye eeirutieh, should be ordered with the additional crudites of onions, jalapeño, and mint for an extra buck. Don’t miss the addictive Phoenician fries, blanketed with sumac and parsley and ready to dip in a potent garlic whip served on the side. A handful of dishes, like a kafta-filled Beiruti Taco, labne with crudite, and mini falafel, are available for relatively cheaper alongside a marked-down cocktail list during happy hour Monday through Friday.

34 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-3420
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Opened in 2017 by Moroccan-Israeli chef Meir Adoni and business partner Gadi Peleg, an owner of Breads Bakery, this clean-lined Gramercy restaurant serves up a modern mishmash of Middle Eastern dishes. Offerings include giant ovaline Jerusalem bagels with za’atar spices and lima bean messbaha, a Tunisian-inflected sandwich containing veal brain, and beef tartare with smoked eggplant cream, sheep’s yogurt, raw tahini, and baby artichokes. Peruse the Israel-heavy wine list, with unique offerings from the West Bank and beyond.

6. Taste of Persia

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12 W 18th St
New York, NY 10011

Traditional soups and stews ladled from massive pots into takeout containers can be found at this hidden gem, which started at the Union Square holiday market and is now situated inside a nondescript slice joint called Pizza Paradise. Taste Of Persia’s owner Saeed Pourkay updates daily specials on the operation’s Facebook page. Options can include abgoosht, a lamb soup; gheimeh bademjan, an eggplant stew; and ghormeh sabzi, a mix of dark greens, kidney beans, and pieces of beef.

Taste of Persia Taste of Persia via Facebook

7. Bar Bolonat

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611 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 390-1545
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This West Village restaurant from chef Einat Admony, the force behind Taïm as well as Nolita’s Balaboosta, offers brightly spiced, elegantly-plated riffs on Israeli cuisine. In lieu of the falafels that have made Taïm such a hit, Bar Bolonat serves an eclectic range of more traditional dishes, like airy, sesame seed-blanketed Jerusalem bagels, fatush salad, and kibbeh, as well as less-expected offerings like fluke ceviche, Japanese eggplant, and shrimp in Yemenite curry.

8. Au Za'atar

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188 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 254-5660
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Opt for a full mezze spread to start off at this cozy Arabian-French bistro in the East Village, where chef Tarik Fallous and his mother Salwa Fallous have served up a mostly Lebanese menu since 2014. The wide slew of vegetarian mezze dishes can be cobbled together to create a satisfying meal; highlights include the mujadara (rice with lentils and caramelized onions) and both fried cauliflower apps — the arnabeet mekle marinated florets, as well as the arnabeet bi tarator, served with a parsley tahini sauce and toasted pine nuts. There’s also a range of kebabs and grilled meat entrees. For a truly carnivorous feast, the restaurant recently started offering tableside shawarma. Ample sidewalk seating makes for great people watching on nice nights.

9. Cafe Mogador

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101 Saint Marks Pl # 1
New York, NY 10009
(212) 677-2226
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The venerable Moroccan spot has been around since 1983 and is particularly hopping at brunch, slinging mezze small plates, substantially sized salads, and interesting twists on traditional a.m. offerings, like eggs with halloumi cheese. Its stellar tagines are a hit at all hours of the day. The Saint Marks Place stalwart has a sizeable outdoor patio for enjoying in warmer weather, and there’s also an equally popular Williamsburg outpost that opened six years ago.

10. Mamoun's

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119 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012

The iconic NYC spot dates back to 1971, when the first location opened up on MacDougal Street and helped introduce the falafel to the city as a a filling, cheap, and vegetarian option. These days, a sandwich runs $4, and can be procured really late at night. There’s also grilled chicken and lamb served three ways: as a kafta patty, in seasoned shish kebab chunks, and thinly-sliced as shawarma.

mamouns falafel Mamoun’s via Facebook

11. Shuka

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38 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 475-7500
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This Eastern Mediterranean spot, which occupies the former Hundred Acres space, comes courtesy of downtown duo Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer, the team behind Vic’s, Rosie’s, and Cookshop. Indonesian-Italian chef Ayesha Nurdjaja is helming the kitchen, turning out an amalgam of Tunisian, Moroccan, and Italian influences. Dishes include whipped feta with pistachio, fried artichokes, cod shakshuka, and brunch options like chocolate babka french toast and and lentils with poached eggs.

12. Taïm

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45 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-0600
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Chef Einat Admony’s exceptional vegetarian fast-casual Israeli outfit, named after the Hebrew word for tasty and delicious, has topnotch falafels. Crunchy and greaseless, they’re available in a traditional green-hued parsley, cilantro, and mint version, a mildly spicy Tunisian-inflected option packed with harissa, and a kalamata olive iteration. Other highlights include salads that can be topped with falafel, plus expertly-seasoned mezzes like Moroccan carrots or marinated beets. Freshly made smoothies are on the menu, too. There’s also a West Village outpost on Waverly Place and a food truck that makes the rounds in warmer weather.

Falafel platter with hummus, Israeli salad, tabbouleh, and pita Photo: Taim

13. Le Sajj

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8221 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11209
(718) 833-7255
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For over a decade, this Middle Eastern restaurant in Bay Ridge has been dishing out a solid, primarily Lebanese menu. Highlights include the homoos Beiruti, mixed with minced vegetables and pickles; shish barak, comprised of small lamb-filled dumplings similar to Turkish manti; the pumpkin kibbe; and a raw beef dish called habrah nayeh. There’s also a selection of kebabs on offer, and the Sajj combination deluxe eliminates the decision-making process entirely.

14. Tripoli Restaurant

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156 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 596-5800
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An Atlantic Avenue stalwart that relocated a few times since opening in the early 1970s, Tripoli is currently located in a quirky but cozy subterranean space that was once the restaurant’s party room, which explains the dramatic lighting and banquet hall vibe. Specialties include kibbee nayeh, a raw ground lamb dish, and ajhi b’ziat, an herbed Lebanese omelet, with or without ground lamb, and a range of stewed dishes, many featuring okra or eggplant.

Tripoli Restaurant Tripoli Restaurant via Facebook

15. Yemen Café

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176 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 834-9533
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This well-liked Yemeni place has been around since 1986. Opt for sauteed bean-based apps like fassoulia and foul, and a delicious mound of minced chicken with onions, tomatoes, and ample spicing on a bed of hummus. Entree standouts include saltah, a hearty root vegetable stew topped with whipped fenugreek, and slow-roasted lamb haneeth. Disks of fluffy bread, fresh from the clay oven, are frequently replenished. Entrees come with gratis lamb soup, called marag, a tangy cup of broth further enhanced by a squeeze of the accompanying lemon wedge, as well as complimentary salad and sweet, spice-spiked hot tea served throughout the meal. Another outpost is located in Bay Ridge.

16. Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop

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195 Atlantic Ave # 1
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 625-7070
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Perfect for easily sourcing a lazy dinner’s worth of spreads, salads, and breads or an enticing on-the-go alternative to a slice, Damascus is always bustling, for good reason. Triangular pies with fillings like lemony spinach or pulled chicken akin to Mexican chicken tinga are deeply satisfying, as are the samboosak, deep-fried phyllo dough cones containing tangy cheese or ground beef with pine nuts. Choose from variety of honey- and nut-saturated Syrian desserts. It’s worth perusing a wide range of spreads and salads, like babaganoush, toum, a pungent garlic whip, and beet salad.

Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop Damascus Break & Pastry Shop via Yelp

17. La Goulette

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159 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(347) 689-4126
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This Tunisian place, opened four years ago by brothers Anis and Karim Khemiri, features a wide selection of Middle Eastern-leaning spreads and dips as well as North African salads. Proteins come in the form of familiar kebabs, shawarma, and kefta, as well as a Tunisian favorite, merguez sausage, that’s made in-house. The airy, herbaceous falafels are worth ordering, too.

18. Wafa's Express

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812 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 576-3547
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Find an excellent Lebanese menu at this East Williamsburg restaurant which debuted a little over a year ago, filled with chef Wafa Chami’s fifth-generation family recipes. Here, takeout is the focus, though there are a few tables for dishes that include an Arab iteration of moussaka, flavorful chicken and lamb shawarma, and sandwiches on ultra-thin pita that are made punchy with pink pickled turnips.

19. Kabab Cafe

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2512 Steinway St # E
Astoria, NY 11103
(718) 728-9858
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Located in Astoria’s Little Egypt stretch, chef Ali El Sayed dishes up Egyptian fare in eccentric, pint-sized digs. Since 1989, he’s been serving delicious stews, baked dishes, and excellent meze on the frequently-changing menu. Also on offer: more unusual offal choices, like sweetbreads and lamb testicles.

Kabab Cafe Kabab Cafe via Yelp

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1. Ravagh Persian Grill

1135 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10065
Ravagh Persian Grill via Facebook

This Iranian-run Persian chainlet has five locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, three of which are in the NYC proper, all on the east side. Feast on delicious skewers of meat here: The barg kababs, featuring chunks of beef tenderloin, and jujeh kebabs, comprised of cornish hen marinated in lemon and saffron, come highly recommended. Nicely charred tomato and onion accompany the protein-rich entrees, and a range of soups, dips, stews, and noteworthy desserts are on offer as well. Further south, the original digs are in the Nomad area, while another outpost is in the East Village.

1135 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10065

2. Gazala's Place

709 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019
Gazala’s Place Gazala’s Place via Yelp

Head here for a top-notch Druze menu — owner and chef Gazala Halabi is a member of the ancient Middle Eastern religious and cultural group that traces back to Roman times. Uniquely massive and incredibly thin pitas, cooked on top of a domed griddle, are a point of distinction for the cuisine. Juicy, herb-flecked ground beef and lamb sausage orbs served on fresh tomato sauce and sprinkled with pine nuts, called kafta, are a highlight, as are the borekas and various hummus iterations. Bonus: The place is BYOB.

709 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

3. Sip Sak

928 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

This Turkish spot in Turtle Bay turns out delicious cacik, a garlicky yogurt sauce akin to tzatziki, and a worthwhile fried eggplant cubes dish. Entrees include kebabs, richly flavorful casserole-like dishes, and rice pilaf. Other highlights include hot yogurt soup and the thick yet airy bread for slathering with everything.

928 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10022

4. ILILI

236 5th Ave, New York, NY 10001

Bigger and glitzier than most of this city’s excellent Middle Eastern establishments, Ilili serves memorable Lebanese dishes that more or less justify the steep prices. The Brussels sprouts with grapes, fig jam, walnuts, and mint yogurt, as well as the mekanek-spiced lamb sausages, are a must. The stellar ultra-smooth steak tartare, called kibbeh naye eeirutieh, should be ordered with the additional crudites of onions, jalapeño, and mint for an extra buck. Don’t miss the addictive Phoenician fries, blanketed with sumac and parsley and ready to dip in a potent garlic whip served on the side. A handful of dishes, like a kafta-filled Beiruti Taco, labne with crudite, and mini falafel, are available for relatively cheaper alongside a marked-down cocktail list during happy hour Monday through Friday.

236 5th Ave
New York, NY 10001

5. Nur

34 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

Opened in 2017 by Moroccan-Israeli chef Meir Adoni and business partner Gadi Peleg, an owner of Breads Bakery, this clean-lined Gramercy restaurant serves up a modern mishmash of Middle Eastern dishes. Offerings include giant ovaline Jerusalem bagels with za’atar spices and lima bean messbaha, a Tunisian-inflected sandwich containing veal brain, and beef tartare with smoked eggplant cream, sheep’s yogurt, raw tahini, and baby artichokes. Peruse the Israel-heavy wine list, with unique offerings from the West Bank and beyond.

34 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003

6. Taste of Persia

12 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011
Taste of Persia Taste of Persia via Facebook

Traditional soups and stews ladled from massive pots into takeout containers can be found at this hidden gem, which started at the Union Square holiday market and is now situated inside a nondescript slice joint called Pizza Paradise. Taste Of Persia’s owner Saeed Pourkay updates daily specials on the operation’s Facebook page. Options can include abgoosht, a lamb soup; gheimeh bademjan, an eggplant stew; and ghormeh sabzi, a mix of dark greens, kidney beans, and pieces of beef.

12 W 18th St
New York, NY 10011

7. Bar Bolonat

611 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
Read Review |

This West Village restaurant from chef Einat Admony, the force behind Taïm as well as Nolita’s Balaboosta, offers brightly spiced, elegantly-plated riffs on Israeli cuisine. In lieu of the falafels that have made Taïm such a hit, Bar Bolonat serves an eclectic range of more traditional dishes, like airy, sesame seed-blanketed Jerusalem bagels, fatush salad, and kibbeh, as well as less-expected offerings like fluke ceviche, Japanese eggplant, and shrimp in Yemenite curry.

611 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014

8. Au Za'atar

188 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
Read Review |

Opt for a full mezze spread to start off at this cozy Arabian-French bistro in the East Village, where chef Tarik Fallous and his mother Salwa Fallous have served up a mostly Lebanese menu since 2014. The wide slew of vegetarian mezze dishes can be cobbled together to create a satisfying meal; highlights include the mujadara (rice with lentils and caramelized onions) and both fried cauliflower apps — the arnabeet mekle marinated florets, as well as the arnabeet bi tarator, served with a parsley tahini sauce and toasted pine nuts. There’s also a range of kebabs and grilled meat entrees. For a truly carnivorous feast, the restaurant recently started offering tableside shawarma. Ample sidewalk seating makes for great people watching on nice nights.

188 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009

9. Cafe Mogador

101 Saint Marks Pl # 1, New York, NY 10009

The venerable Moroccan spot has been around since 1983 and is particularly hopping at brunch, slinging mezze small plates, substantially sized salads, and interesting twists on traditional a.m. offerings, like eggs with halloumi cheese. Its stellar tagines are a hit at all hours of the day. The Saint Marks Place stalwart has a sizeable outdoor patio for enjoying in warmer weather, and there’s also an equally popular Williamsburg outpost that opened six years ago.

101 Saint Marks Pl # 1
New York, NY 10009

10. Mamoun's

119 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012
mamouns falafel Mamoun’s via Facebook

The iconic NYC spot dates back to 1971, when the first location opened up on MacDougal Street and helped introduce the falafel to the city as a a filling, cheap, and vegetarian option. These days, a sandwich runs $4, and can be procured really late at night. There’s also grilled chicken and lamb served three ways: as a kafta patty, in seasoned shish kebab chunks, and thinly-sliced as shawarma.

119 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012

11. Shuka

38 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012

This Eastern Mediterranean spot, which occupies the former Hundred Acres space, comes courtesy of downtown duo Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer, the team behind Vic’s, Rosie’s, and Cookshop. Indonesian-Italian chef Ayesha Nurdjaja is helming the kitchen, turning out an amalgam of Tunisian, Moroccan, and Italian influences. Dishes include whipped feta with pistachio, fried artichokes, cod shakshuka, and brunch options like chocolate babka french toast and and lentils with poached eggs.

38 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012

12. Taïm

45 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Falafel platter with hummus, Israeli salad, tabbouleh, and pita Photo: Taim

Chef Einat Admony’s exceptional vegetarian fast-casual Israeli outfit, named after the Hebrew word for tasty and delicious, has topnotch falafels. Crunchy and greaseless, they’re available in a traditional green-hued parsley, cilantro, and mint version, a mildly spicy Tunisian-inflected option packed with harissa, and a kalamata olive iteration. Other highlights include salads that can be topped with falafel, plus expertly-seasoned mezzes like Moroccan carrots or marinated beets. Freshly made smoothies are on the menu, too. There’s also a West Village outpost on Waverly Place and a food truck that makes the rounds in warmer weather.

45 Spring St
New York, NY 10012

13. Le Sajj

8221 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209
Read Review |

For over a decade, this Middle Eastern restaurant in Bay Ridge has been dishing out a solid, primarily Lebanese menu. Highlights include the homoos Beiruti, mixed with minced vegetables and pickles; shish barak, comprised of small lamb-filled dumplings similar to Turkish manti; the pumpkin kibbe; and a raw beef dish called habrah nayeh. There’s also a selection of kebabs on offer, and the Sajj combination deluxe eliminates the decision-making process entirely.

8221 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11209

14. Tripoli Restaurant

156 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Tripoli Restaurant Tripoli Restaurant via Facebook

An Atlantic Avenue stalwart that relocated a few times since opening in the early 1970s, Tripoli is currently located in a quirky but cozy subterranean space that was once the restaurant’s party room, which explains the dramatic lighting and banquet hall vibe. Specialties include kibbee nayeh, a raw ground lamb dish, and ajhi b’ziat, an herbed Lebanese omelet, with or without ground lamb, and a range of stewed dishes, many featuring okra or eggplant.

156 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201

15. Yemen Café

176 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

This well-liked Yemeni place has been around since 1986. Opt for sauteed bean-based apps like fassoulia and foul, and a delicious mound of minced chicken with onions, tomatoes, and ample spicing on a bed of hummus. Entree standouts include saltah, a hearty root vegetable stew topped with whipped fenugreek, and slow-roasted lamb haneeth. Disks of fluffy bread, fresh from the clay oven, are frequently replenished. Entrees come with gratis lamb soup, called marag, a tangy cup of broth further enhanced by a squeeze of the accompanying lemon wedge, as well as complimentary salad and sweet, spice-spiked hot tea served throughout the meal. Another outpost is located in Bay Ridge.

176 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201

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16. Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop

195 Atlantic Ave # 1, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop Damascus Break & Pastry Shop via Yelp

Perfect for easily sourcing a lazy dinner’s worth of spreads, salads, and breads or an enticing on-the-go alternative to a slice, Damascus is always bustling, for good reason. Triangular pies with fillings like lemony spinach or pulled chicken akin to Mexican chicken tinga are deeply satisfying, as are the samboosak, deep-fried phyllo dough cones containing tangy cheese or ground beef with pine nuts. Choose from variety of honey- and nut-saturated Syrian desserts. It’s worth perusing a wide range of spreads and salads, like babaganoush, toum, a pungent garlic whip, and beet salad.

195 Atlantic Ave # 1
Brooklyn, NY 11201

17. La Goulette

159 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

This Tunisian place, opened four years ago by brothers Anis and Karim Khemiri, features a wide selection of Middle Eastern-leaning spreads and dips as well as North African salads. Proteins come in the form of familiar kebabs, shawarma, and kefta, as well as a Tunisian favorite, merguez sausage, that’s made in-house. The airy, herbaceous falafels are worth ordering, too.

159 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11249

18. Wafa's Express

812 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Find an excellent Lebanese menu at this East Williamsburg restaurant which debuted a little over a year ago, filled with chef Wafa Chami’s fifth-generation family recipes. Here, takeout is the focus, though there are a few tables for dishes that include an Arab iteration of moussaka, flavorful chicken and lamb shawarma, and sandwiches on ultra-thin pita that are made punchy with pink pickled turnips.

812 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

19. Kabab Cafe

2512 Steinway St # E, Astoria, NY 11103
Kabab Cafe Kabab Cafe via Yelp

Located in Astoria’s Little Egypt stretch, chef Ali El Sayed dishes up Egyptian fare in eccentric, pint-sized digs. Since 1989, he’s been serving delicious stews, baked dishes, and excellent meze on the frequently-changing menu. Also on offer: more unusual offal choices, like sweetbreads and lamb testicles.

2512 Steinway St # E
Astoria, NY 11103

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