Travel Guides for Un-tourists


New York’s Most-Mouthwatering Middle Eastern Feasts

by Siobhan Gunner

posted on February 06, 2019

Photo Courtesy: Kubeh

In New York, you’re never too far away from a magnificent Middle Eastern feast; you just need to know where to go. Fast-casual falafel spots like Mamoun and Taïm are justifiably beloved, halal carts dot busy streets, and restaurants offer up everything from Moroccan tagines to Kurdish kubeh. Here we’ve highlighted our favorites: some take reservations, while others test your patience with outrageously long lines (we promise, it’s worth the wait); either way, you can’t go wrong.

Photo Courtesy: yourweekendplans

Celebrated Israeli chef Meir Adoni packs his menu with everything we love about the Middle East, from street food to fine dining fare. Adoni is also the owner of New York’s beloved Breads Bakery, which explains why the oval-shaped Jerusalem bagel is a signature staple, and why brunch-time diners trust the team to curate a delightful selection of mezzes (think of this daytime set menu as an omakase for Middle Eastern food).

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Jerusalem sesame bagel, smoked eggplant carpaccio, Casablanca chraime

Photo Courtesy: cafemogadornyc

Filled with locals and a buzzing atmosphere, Café Mogador is best known for its brunch, though the dinner menu (tagines feature heavily) is no slouch. Head to either location — the East Village is the original, while Williamsburg’s boasts a bit more breathing room — for exceptional eggs: think Moroccan-style in spicy tomato sauce or poached and paired with halloumi, olives, and roasted tomatoes.

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Bastilla, lamb tagine, Moroccan breakfast, mixed platter, mint tea, vegetarian cous-cous

Photo Courtesy: theamycode

Taste of Persia is a no-frills hidden gem that steals your heart — or, should we say, stomach — with comforting Persian dishes. The menu changes frequently, which is all part of the fun, but you’ll always find hot-and-hearty stews, like ash reshteh, a herb-flecked marriage of beans, noodles, and heady spices. Tucked inside Pizza Paradise, it’s a true slice of heaven.

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Ash reshteh (noodle soup), gheimeh bademjan (eggplant with lentils and beef), fesenjan (chicken stew with walnuts)

Photo Courtesy: miznon_nyc

You’ll have to elbow your way through the tourists in Chelsea Market to reach the US branch of Miznon, a world-renowned Middle Eastern minichain, but these packed pitas promise to be nothing short of pillowy and perfect. Choose between fillings like wild mushrooms, lamb kebab, or a “folded” cheeseburger (a NYC-exclusive); whichever you pick, know that it’s practically mandatory to pair your sandwich with the whole roasted cauliflower, a show-stopping side that set off a global trend.

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Whole roasted cauliflower, za'atar folded omelet pita, Run Over Potato, rib eye minute steak pita, Trail of Bananas

Photo Courtesy: eatkubeh

Named after a specialty with roots in Kurdish, Syrian, and Iraqi cuisine, Kubeh brings these irresistible dumplings to the West Village. Bobbing in your choice of broth, these round bundles of dough are filled with slow-cooked beef, mushrooms, or a mixture of cod, cilantro, tomatoes, and cumin. Comfort comes in other forms too, with an assortment of mezzes, spreads, and small plates for sharing (be sure to try the fried pea kibbeh), all served in a homey, colorful space.

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Fried pea kubeh, muhammara, tahdig, Syrian fish kubeh in tumia broth

Photo Courtesy: missadanyc

Meet Miss Ada, a cozy Fort Greene favorite whose name is derived from a Hebrew word for coming together at the dinner table with friends and family. With that in mind, expect good vibes and a menu of small shareable plates with creative twists, like parsnip hummus with hazelnuts, short rib skewers with Israeli mole, and octopus with eggplant puree and charred peppers. On a sunny day, ask nicely, and you may be rewarded with a backyard table by the restaurant’s garden.

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Whipped ricotta, chicken liver hummus, octopus, za'atar-crusted salmon

Photo Courtesy: sludwig319

The latest venture from the team behind Taïm and Balaboosta, Kish-Kash focuses on traditional Moroccan couscous. Hand-rolled and steamed in a time-consuming process, it’s a wholly different thing than the supermarket stuff. The result: supremely-fluffy grains waiting to be topped with everything from braised meats (try the three-lemon chicken tagine) to ras el hanout vegetables.

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Hummus with chermoula and challah, chicken tagine, chraime (spicy fish), masayer (lemon pickled vegetables)

Photo Courtesy: arwatella

What was once Hundred Acres is now Shuka, a name change with a new Middle Eastern-minded menu to match. Marble-topped tables and thoughtful staff draw an upscale crowd of locals and travelers alike. As for the menu, mezze and dips take center stage, ranging from warm medjool dates with lime zest to hot pink beet tzatziki. At brunch, French toast soars to new levels; here, it’s made with milk chocolate babka.

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Smashed sweet potato, bourekas, beet hummus, fattoush salad, cod shakshuka, souk sundae

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