Exemplary Middle Eastern Fare in Philadelphia

Exemplary Middle Eastern Fare in Philadelphia

Travel & Leisure named Zahav one of their 50 Best New US Restaurants for 2009, and it has been featured by The New York Times in 36 Hours in Philadelphia. The good press is justified — each small plate features grand, international flavors and the chef even ably turns typically mundane street food into impressively gourmet dishes. The Israeli-born chef, Michael Solomonov, has created a menu based on Israeli cuisine with North African and Middle Eastern riffs.

Stone walls, draped ceilings, and blown-up photographs of crowds evoke the atmosphere of a shuk (marketplace) in Jerusalem. Meals begin with “salatim,” a selection of eight salads, served with za’atar-seasoned, house-made laffa bread.

Zahav serves some of the best hummus you'll ever eat. You can opt for traditional "Hummus-Tehina,” or investigate more complicated variations like the “hummus-masabacha” (with warm chickpeas), hummus-foul (with warm fava beans), or Turkish hummus (served warm with butter and grilled garlic).

Halavi (dairy) selections include outstanding borekas, baked kashkaval (one of Zahav’s best dishes), and an exemplary fried cauliflower with labaneh. Meats (basari) range from fried kibbe to Moroccan pastilla, and the shipudim offerings (grilled over coals), include lamb tenderloin, Merguez and ground beef sausage. The best way to end your meal is with an out-of-this-world pistachio baklava and some Turkish coffee. Individual dishes max out at $12, making Zahav an affordable opportunity to explore the flavors of the Middle East.

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