Lebanese dishes like tabbouleh and labneh (yogurt) are both healthy and delicious—one of the many reasons this type of Mediterranean cuisine has become so popular. Check out our picks for the best Lebanese food in New York City right now. By Sarah Shaker and Jessica Allen.
This quaint restaurant in the East Village makes a mean manakeesh, or authentic Lebanese flatbread, using housemade dough. Other options include tons of mezze (sharable, snackable small plates), such as fatayer (triangular mini pies) filled with spinach and feta, falafel (in four flavors, including celery and jalapeno), sujuk (piquant beef sausages), and grilled halloumi cheese.
A bit swankier than most other Middle Eastern restaurants in the city, ilili serves both traditional and modern Lebanese dishes like baba ghannouj, moussaka, cote de boeuf (dry aged for 48 days!), stuffed grape leaves, and lamb chops in a lovely low-lit room near the Flatiron building. Got a date night coming up? Can’t go wrong here. Or you can check out the awesome lunch prix fixe: one side dish and one main dish for $25.
Located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Le Sajj not only serves one of the best hummus plates in NYC, but this restaurant also offers a long list of appetizers to share. Consider an order of the freshly made kibbeh nayyeh (raw lamb mixed with onion, olive oil, and cracked wheat), followed by the comforting kafta (minced beef and lamb) kabob or just-caught trout served with tahini sauce, and, to finish, an order of baklava.
Manousheh earns consistent raves for its fast, friendly service and its astonishing flatbreads, both sweet and savory — and always baked on site. Among its most popular flatbreads are the avocado za’atar, with olives, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes; the jibneh, a soft cheese made from cow’s milk; and one served with ground beef, tomatoes, and onions. Conclude your meal with a Nutella flatbread, as delicious as it sounds. There’s just something about “meat and dough,” as Manousheh says on Facebook . . .
Naya serves up traditional Lebanese fare in a few locations around town (we like the restaurant in Midtown, decorated almost entirely in white, which always makes us feel as if we’re eating in the future). The fare stays similar to what you’d happily munch on in the old country, including hommus, jawaneh (sautéed chicken wings), daoud basha (lamb meat balls), and the shawarma roll with grass-fed beef.
Long considered the best Lebanese restaurant in Brooklyn, if not all five boroughs, Tanoreen is best when you go beyond standard fare like stuffed grape leaves. We dream about the shulbato (a lively mix of cracked wheat, chickpeas, peppers, eggplant, and squash tossed in a tomato sauce), as well as the musakhan (chicken, caramelized onions, pine nuts, almonds, and spices piled oh-so-high on dough, kind of like an earthy, delicious pizza).
Oh, Wafa’s, where do we begin? We’d travel miles for your ful mudammas (a spread of chickpeas, fava beans, garlic, and olive oil, topped with tomatoes), and traverse endless bus lines for your shish tawook (char-grilled chicken breast that’s been marinated in olive oil, lemon, and garlic). The made-to-order meals are worth any kind of wait. We like the mango and guava juices, but the homemade yogurt drink is pretty good too.