We’ve got a whole section of restaurants that we recommend for people dining alone, but Zakia isn’t one of ‘em. Taking in the grandiose views and as many delicious plates as possible is best enjoyed with a group, even if that group happens to be family who don’t all necessarily jive.
Now, the food at Zakia won’t result in the type of healing miracles we learned about in Sunday school. But we’re pretty convinced a family-style Lebanese meal here could help mend even the deepest of family feuds when the table nods in quiet agreement after the first pleasing bite of lamb shank, a standout in a city full of lamb dishes.
The menu is stuffed with small plates, mostly traditional Lebanese dishes based on recipes the co-owners grew up eating (in fact, the Buckhead spot is named after their grandmother). And if their grandmother was regularly cooking up labneh and batata harra this good, we get why there's a glowing portrait of her above the dining space.
Family-style dining can feel messy. But Zakia feels polished and grand while still providing space that feels intimate for a small group. Three separate dining areas, each more impressive than the last, bring this 6,000 square-foot space to life. The main room has a four-tiered chandelier and is bordered by a series of ornate pillars that has us Googling the breadth of ancient Rome imperialism (yes to Tyre, but et tu, Buckhead?). And the back room is lined with windows spilling natural light onto a ceiling dotted with dangling white floral strings for a more ethereal dining environment. We know Buckhead tends to lean bougie, but even your well-to-do in-laws will be dazzled by this space.
Once you’ve absorbed the beautiful setting, it’s time to break bread, folks—the warm, fresh-baked, fluffy pita kind. Which also happens to make the perfect vehicle for the creamy hummus topped with ground lamb that should be everyone’s first order. And you might marvel at how well the cod sayadieh can make dinner with your actual family copacetic. But even if sharing thirteen plates of delicious takes on Lebanese standards doesn’t mend fractured family ties, you can at least have a dinner you’ll actually enjoy.
Lamb Ragu Hummus
Ground lamb topped with chickpeas as a garnish sits in a bed of incredibly creamy hummus. Aleppo pepper sprinkled on top gives a tiny burst of flavor to complement the savory lamb and hummus. And their fresh baked, light and fluffy pita bread is the perfect vessel to devour the dip.
Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank
Lamb chops and shanks have become a trendy ATL food item, but we’re not sure we’ve had any as good as this. One light poke of the fork and the tender meat falls away from the bone. With a deep, rich flavor it’s easy to imagine this is topped with gravy but a quick double take reveals that’s just the magic of the juicy braise.
This labneh is sprinkled with za’atar and artistically doused with a light mint oil. All this combines for a fresh palate cleanser in between bites of the other tasty apps.
The octopus here were on a strict strength training regimen to bulk up because these tentacles are thick and meaty. The charred exterior gives way to a surprisingly, perfectly tender interior. And be sure to dive into every bit of the fresh lemon labneh it’s served on.
Their take on batata harra differs slightly from typical renditions. It’s a fried rectangular block with thinly sliced layers of potato. The crispy exterior gives a nice crunch while a little pool of harissa chermoula gives the dish an herby sweetnesses that we wish we could bottle up.
On the surface, this hunk of cod sits on a bed of Carolina gold rice and a light, buttery sauce and doesn’t look that impressive. But one bite of the flaky, moist fish is like eating melted butter. It’s a well-executed yet simple fish dish that somehow manages to be a standout part of the meal.
Their traditional baba ghanoush has all the usual suspects—eggplant, lemon, tahini. But the added flair of pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top gives the dish a pop of sweetness.
The knafeh is the perfect way to end a meal. Cheese baked in a light, sweet dough for a crispy exterior is made complete with a drizzle of sugary syrup that helps soften it enough so our forks can slide in without effort. Cheese lovers will dream about this one for days, but this dish is rich, so lightweights shouldn’t embark on this solo.