By Simon Gusev
Get ready to find love at first bite at Au Za’atar, a Lebanese/Middle Eastern bistro led by the Lebanese-born Tarik Fallous. With authentic yet innovative plates, you will taste flavorful traditions in each delectable dish. You will definitely eat your heart out at this East Village favorite!
Located at 188 Avenue A, Au Za’atar is ready to welcome you with homemade dishes and friendly hospitality. Whether you want an intimate dining experience or are ready to sample family style platters with all your friends, you can sit back and relax with their outdoor area featuring a handful of wooden tables. Au Za’atar’s mouthwatering menu is comprised of diverse delicacies with recipes from across the Middle East. As soon as you take a seat, you are greeted with a tray of freshly baked pitas doused with spice za’atar, a combination of sesame seeds, sumac and Levantine herbs. Served with labne, a mixture of thickened yogurt and green olive oil, your taste buds will definitely be taken on a very creative and inspired culinary adventure.
Make it a mezze meal with Kibbeh Kras, the national dish of Lebanon, featuring a mixture of ground beef, diced onions and almonds. You can also enjoy their hummus options and Makanek, a classic Lebanese dish composed of beef spiced sausages flambéed with fresh lemon juice. Their Mezze Mix Tray includes Tabouli Salad, Arnabeet Bi Tarator, Foul Medamas, Batata Harra, Mudardara and Bemieh Bzeit. The Grilled Halloum Salad, made with grilled halloum, roasted beets and cucumbers with walnuts over greens, is a fresh and flavorful fall dish.
Keep the tasty times coming with their Kebabs or Baked Flat Breads, often referred to as Lebanese Open Face Sandwiches, including the popular Za’atar Manouche made with sundried thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and olive oil, as well as the Jebne Manouche, consisting of a blend of five cheeses. Their freshly made Falafel Pizza features your two favorite things in one baked flat bread with cheese, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions and diced falafel. Try the Mediterranean cheese selections such as Halloum, a Cypriot cheese served grilled over tomatoes and cucumbers, plus Labne, a classic Levantine cream cheese and extra virgin olive oil.
Make sure to mix things up with their Mixed Grill Plates, the best way to explore the rich flavors of the region with chicken, filet mignon, chicken kafta and beef kafta kebab. Their palatable family style platters feature a combination of a braised lamb shoulder, braised lamb shank and grilled lamb chops, served with spiced rice plus minced beef. For some succulent seafood, the Samak Platter features an array of marinated sea bass, grouper fillet, salmon and grilled shrimp in a seafood broth.
Soak up the sun – and some authentic plates – with tableside Shawarma which serves 3-4 people. Make sure to pair each plate with the perfect Lebanese beer or wine. Their delectable deserts include Baklawa and Riz Bi Haleeb, a Lebanese rice pudding topped with almonds, nuts, ground pistachio and orange blossom syrup.
You can even wake up to a scrumptious serving of their Middle Eastern Breakfast of labne, chopped salad, sunny side up eggs and za’atar pita, in addition to other brunch favoites including Vegetarian Falafel Benedict.
This authentic restaurant, which serves up hearty portions of homemade delicacies, also has a big heart and has been donating some of their proceeds to the relief funds in Lebanon following the devastating attacks.