He might have been an executive at Porsche, but Jacob Harb is now in the driver’s seat at Yara, his authentic Lebanese restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. Harb yearned to introduce his own version of friendly hospitality and upscale cuisine, so he went full-speed ahead and opened Yara, which serves up scrumptious dishes and attentive service.
Feeling fulfilled by his successful career in the automotive industry, this entrepreneur decided to embark on a new adventure and was able to foresee a food-inspired future. The restaurant is a true passion project Jacob, who was born in Lebanon before leaving during the Civil War and coming to the US. He now brings the flavors and smells of his homeland to life with every bite of baba ganoush. All the dishes on the menu are things that his mother and grandmother would make for him growing up, such as the pumpkin kibbeh, which you won’t find anywhere else.
“Food has always been a passion of mine—I consider myself a foodie. That coupled with the opportunity to be a tastemaker was what led me into the restaurant business. Lebanese cuisine to me is all about hospitality, vitality and community. All the food is healthy, meant to be shared and flavorful; it’s the ideal way to eat. I decided to launch with a Lebanese restaurant because I wanted to share all those wonderful traits with the world.”
Jacob might have put the menu together, but Michelin-recognized Chef Refeat Husseini is the one in the kitchen making everything from scratch, from the hummus, which incorporates a 3-day process, to the fresh salads, and more. You can even enjoy Yara’s expansive and eclectic menu regardless of dietary restrictions. Whether you’re looking for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or keto-friendly items, they have something for everyone in your party. With so many vegetarian dishes and mouthwatering meat items on the menu, the only trouble you’ll have is picking which plate to please your palate.
With a recently-launched happy hour and a three-course, pre-fixe lunch menu, you can enjoy Lebanese cuisine all day and all night. From beef shawarma to beet falafel, you’ll be falling in love with every bite. Jacob explained that he loves Mediterranean cuisine “because everything is made with simple, clean ingredients. At Yara, we have 18 vegan dishes, which are authentically Lebanese.” Lunch, which will be served daily, features kefta, labneh, fish and fattoush, and is available from 11:30AM to 3:30PM before the restaurant reopens at 5:00PM for dinner service. Come by and sip on a specialty cocktail during Monday to Friday’s happy hour, where you can unwind with a Moscow Mule or Tequila Honeysuckle.
The bi-level space is swanky and sophisticated, with décor that matches their deliciously decadent dishes. According to Jacob, “Yara’s brand is about a healthy vitality and bountiful hospitality which is purely Lebanese. The design embodies that—it is both chic and inviting.”
This Mediterranean-inspired mecca will transport you to Lebanon—a dimly-lit version with posh surroundings and a truly craft cocktail experience with all juices, syrups and infusions prepared in-house daily. You can feel like a real foodie with their traditional and innovative spices, skewers and sautéed okra. Their grilled lamb chops will have you licking your chops, while the Mulukhia, a mallow stew with chicken and rice, will have your mouth watering. Harb’s mission—“to share the incredible food I was raised on in a wonderful environment”—comes to life in every aspect of Yara.
Jacob is proud of all the dishes at his restaurant, which are made from scratch, but he admits that when it comes to picking his favorite dish, he “has to start with the hummus! This is made in a traditional batch method that is completed over three days delivering a uniquely rich and creamy hummus. This is the hummus I grew up with. Next, I would go with the baba ganoush. We grill fresh eggplants in house for the foundation; this provides a hearty and flavorful depth to the dish. Lastly, I would highlight the kibbe. This is a traditional Lebanese dish that I would describe as a croquette. At Yara, we offer beef and pumpkin kibbe. The pumpkin kibbe is vegan, and both are extremely tasty.”
Whether you want to get cozy by their fireplace, relax in the lounge with a carefully crafted cocktail, or simply savor the smells and sights of this tasty and tastefully done space, Yara will be your favorite foodie destination.
319 E 53rd St.
New York, NY 10022