There’s nothing like the smell of delicately spiced falafel and the garlicky whiff of fresh houmous to get the taste buds watering, which is why London Living is pleased to bring you our list of top five Middle Eastern restaurants in the Big Smoke. Prepare to get very, very hungry…
1. Le Comptoir Libanais
Lebanese food just got cool – really cool. Founded and run by entrepreneurial chef Tony Kitous, the uber-hip Comptoir Libanais is more than just a restaurant; it also sells artisan products from across North Africa and the Middle East. Dining at Le Comptoir is an experience for all the senses, and as Thoroughly Modern Milly says in her review, the restaurant “radiates onto the street; the bright cheerful sign and joie de vivre lures you in to experience the Lebanese food and join the fun.”
2. Yalla Yalla
Another achingly chic Lebanese franchise that has been taking London by storm, Yalla Yalla (which means ‘hurry, hurry’ and is a self-styled “Beirut street-food cafe”) is a little more subdued and down-to-earth than Le Comptoir. That doesn’t mean the food isn’t great, though, and as pointed out by EATabetical, “there’s a reason Yalla Yalla was packed on the Tuesday night we went: the food is delicious.”
3. Abu Zaad
Tucked away from the usual tourist trail just off the Uxbridge Road, Abu Zaad is perhaps London’s most authentic Syrian restaurant. Here you can find bustling tables crammed with Syrian families and familiar, home-cooked food (well, familiar if you’re Syrian, that is). Nazar Blue rates it as one of her all-time favourite Middle Eastern restaurants in London, saying that it is “home to West London’s dedicated Middle Eastern food lovers; not the type that go people watching in Momos or nearby Pacha, but the type who appreciate wholesome home-cooked food.”
This restaurant is so much off the beaten track that it doesn’t even have its own website! But despite it’s unassuming origins, Patogh remains one of London’s best Persian restaurants – if not necessarily its most glamorous! Expect intimate surroundings and potential elbow-jarring with the person on the table next to you, but the food is certainly worth it – they even make their own flat bread in the ubiquitous Persian clay oven.
“Serving typical Persian style street food, Patogh makes some of the most delicious meze dishes you will ever eat. Freshly made houmous, creamy paneer cheese with fresh mint and delicious masto musir, a typical Persian dish of yoghurt and finely chopped shallots, are all excellent and the portion sizes are very generous.” Hidden Palette
If small and homely isn’t your style, then perhaps Ev (which means “home” in Turkish) will tempt you with its chic decor and satisfyingly grandiose atmosphere under the arches of Waterloo East station. The restaurant is part of a sequence of Ev establishments, including a delicatessen and a bar, all of which are surrounded by a green and luscious courtyard (“a romantic oasis”, according to bennorum) that is more reminiscent of Mediterranean summer evenings than South London. The food is also suitably elegant, with interesting and unusual fusion items cropping up on the menu such as courgette and goat’s cheese patties with spicy tomato sauce. Quite simply delicious!