I’m not exactly sure that New York City was in desperate need of an Armenian/Lebanese restaurant, but this stateside opening of Almayass, a Beirut-based establishment with locations across the Middle East, is very exciting for at least three or four of us here.
At first glance, Almayass looks a lot like what you might expect a new Middle Eastern restaurant in Flatiron to look like. It’s a nicely appointed room with white tablecloths and a vaguely Mediterranean looking tree hanging over a few of the tables. Small speakers in each corner play a strange mix of loungey hotel beats and what I believe to either be the Arabic version of Michael Buble, or music from the movie Aladdin. The staff is worldly, and while they don’t all seem to hail from this specific region, everyone looks the part. Very few have two discernible eyebrows. Ultimately, if you’ve ever walked into an upscale Greek restaurant, you’ve seen this movie before.
What makes Almayass exciting though, is its unique brand of cuisine. Almayass not only focuses on traditional Lebanese food, but also Armenian food, because the two cultures are so tightly knit. There has been a large Armenian population in Lebanon for centuries, and the best things that both of these peoples eat are on display at this restaurant. For someone like me with ties to both cultures, this place is heaven. The problem though, is that I’m not sure that Almayass will be heaven for you if this food doesn’t connect you with some version of home. It’s a fairly formal and expensive restaurant, which means it’s not the place to take a big group of friends who are just looking for some hummus and a falafel. Almayass is more of a Dinner With The Parents version of Tanoreen or Balade. And if your parents are Lebanese or Armenian, jack this rating up a full point. You’d be hard pressed to find a better restaurant for a family meal and some nostalgia on the table. Just don’t tell grandma what you paid for some of the same stuff she cooks in her sleep.
A must order, no matter what else you’re eating. This is flavorful and perfect, and doused in excellent olive oil.
This is an Armenian dish that usually consists of very thin layers of dough with cheese in the middle. Here it’s more of an Armenian Hot Pocket. We liked the cheese inside, but this felt a little bit like a shortcut version.
Think of this as a ground beef meatball with pine nuts in it that’s been fried. I’ve been eating kebbe like this all my life, and my Grandma’s version owns this. They went too light on the allspice. We’d say skip this and do one of the other meat dishes – like the Soujuk Almayass instead.
Mantee is a small “boat shaped” Armenian pasta dish, and each boat is filled with spinach and then topped with a garlic yogurt sauce and baked. It’s incredible. This is an absolute must order item.
Perfectly cooked chicken on a stick with garlic sauce on the side. I don’t know what more you want from life, but you’re asking too much.
A traditional Lebanese dessert that consists of a cheese that almost resembles what you might find in a ricotta cheesecake. The cheese curd sits atop a caramelized pastry, and is then topped with a sh*tload of pistachios and simple syrup. It’s excellent, but it’s also thick. Don’t order it unless you’re splitting it.
You Might Also Like
Yes, you're about to spend about an hour on the train to get to Tanoreen. But if you appreciate Middle Eastern or Mediterranean food, it's more than worth the ride.
Moti Mahal Delux is the first US franchise of the massive restaurant chain originating from New Delhi. Their menu has transferred successfully into the Upper East Side, making Indian cuisine lovers out The Infatuation.
We like Kefi because it’s a restaurant with something for everyone on the menu, and it’s multi-purpose like a Swiss Army knife. A date, lunch with moms, Greek Easter brunch, a night out with the ladies…it all works.
A laid back Lebanese eatery that gets Stang's stamp of approval. The service is good, people are friendly, and you can eat your face off for about twenty bucks a person.
What Taboon lacks in cool, it more than makes up for with top quality Mediterranean eats and good service.
A classic Greek restaurant that's been around since the 80's, and still holds up today.
We can't tell you that we love most of the dining options in the Upper East Side. What we can tell you is that the food at Amali is both interesting and delicious, which makes it stand out from the rest of the overpriced stalwarts in the neighborhood.
We found ourselves enjoying the food at Naya quite a bit. However, the space is about ten feet wide and looks like a high-end shower.