Roots in Beirut: Lebanese restaurants in Vancouver

Aside from the late-night falafel stand or donair shop, sit-down Lebanese restaurants are hard to come by in Vancouver. We scoured the streets, though, and came up with a few excellent options. Settle in and enjoy dish after dish of traditional Lebanese meze as well as platters of meat and vegetarian fare. [Image courtesy of Jamjar]

Nuba Natural Foods

1
146 3rd Ave E, Vancouver, BC V5T 1C8

If you’ve ever tried Najib’s Special, you’ll know why countless food bloggers and home chefs have tried to recreate this fried and spiced cauliflower masterpiece. But nowhere is it as good as at its original home, made by Najib himself. If you can ever manage to order something else, everything is equally good (well, almost). Falafel, baba ghanoush, lamb hushwie, shish tawook: all dishes are fragrant with Middle Eastern spices and often come with refreshing pickled cabbage and addictive tahini dressing.

Jamjar

2
2290 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4B5

If the consistent lineup since it opened is anything to go by, this new Lebanese restaurant on the Drive is a welcome addition to the ‘hood. Classic dishes are served in a contemporary setting of white subway tile and industrial-style seating. The focus here is on mezes — small, shareable plates intended for feasting with friends — with some traditional specialties you’d find in a Lebanese home kitchen. And don’t forget to grab a jar of house-made hummus for sale on your way out.

Saj & Co

3
813 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1B7

The convex dome oven, as seen through the front window of this take-out Lebanese restaurant is one indication that everything here is made fresh and to order. Specializing in wraps, Chef Malek rolls out the chewy flatbread dough in front of your eyes, before slapping it on the grill while he prepares the other ingredients for your sandwich. With many vegetarian options, decent portions and good prices, this unique downtown sandwich shop is a must-try for lunch on the go.

Karakoram Restaurant

4
6990 Victoria Dr, Vancouver, BC V5P 3Y8

This hidden gem on Victoria Drive serves some of the more authentic (and Halal) Lebanese cuisine in town all in a no-frills environment (pita comes to your table in its original plastic bag!) for very decent prices. Choose your mains and let the owner round out your feast. He’ll bring hummus that is creamy, smooth and spiked with tahini and lemon, baba ghanoush in which you can taste the char from the grilled eggplant, and bracing garlic sauce that should douse any dish you order.

Sofra Mediterranean Kitchen

5
2277 41st Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6M 2A3

A welcome ethnic addition to the Kerrisdale neighbourhood, Sofra offers Mediterranean fare in a nice atmosphere at exceptionally reasonable prices. Serving classic dishes like kebab, falafel and donair in either wraps or as platters with pita, rice, salad, baba ghanoush and tzatziki, they also offer pide, a kind of pita pizza filled with traditional Lebanese flavours like spiced lamb, beef or chicken. Lentil soup is a steal at $3 and sides like salads, hummus and non-traditional dolmas and samosas are flavourful and affordable.

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