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PHL

Review

Max Grudzinski

Suraya

$$$$
Written by
Max Grudzinski

Remember all of those infomercials from the ’90s where Billy Mays (RIP) convinced you that whatever product he was selling could fix pretty much any problem? It would go something like, “Red wine stain? Zap it. White wine headache? Zap it. Your dog knocked over your wine rack and is now walking sideways? Zap it!”

We bought a few of those products back in the day and usually wound up disappointed. But this review isn’t about our innate trust in bearded men with kind eyes. It’s about Suraya. And even if there’s not an HSN product that can fix all of our problems, fortunately there’s a restaurant that can.

Max Grudzinski

Suraya is an all-day Lebanese cafe in Fishtown that you can count on for pretty much any situation, whether it’s coffee on a Monday morning or a big birthday dinner. And not just a last-minute birthday dinner where you pick a place that’ll let you drink five bottles of wine and not ask any questions, but one that your friends will remember for years and never be able to quite replicate with their own. The space is huge, and it always feels celebratory no matter what night of the week it is. The lights are dim, but it’s not so dark that you’ll want to fall asleep in your bowl of hummus. And we’re not sure what they did with the acoustics, but even though you’d think that it would be super loud, it’s somehow easy to have a conversation here without having to yell. Plus, they have our favorite patio in the whole city out back, and not only is it filled with fountains and fire pits, but it also has its own separate bar.

Max Grudzinski

We’d probably tell our friends to come here in the summer to hang out on the patio even if the menu wasn’t that great, but fortunately we don’t have to make that caveat. Without hesitation, this is one of the best places you can eat in Philadelphia. Like if you ever become a famous singer and get to make a list of crazy requests when you play the Linc, one of them should be the entire mezze section from Suraya. The whole menu - from mezze (small plates) to main courses - is meant to be shared, and you should try to order a couple things from each of the four sections for your table. The samke nayyeh, a yellowtail crudo sitting in a pool of labne, will make you want to go home and fill your bathtub up with the creamy yogurt sauce and put on some smooth jazz. We also love the kawarma, a roast lamb dish that falls apart as soon as you touch it with your knife. You won’t get to try everything on your first visit, but you’ll be back here often, so take your time.

First date with a groundskeeper at Longwood Gardens? Suraya. Lunch during the week when you need to get out of Center City and remind yourself that Philadelphia is more than just lawyers and suits? Suraya. Birthday dinner when you want to seem chill, but also want your friend who’s really high up at Anthropologie to think you’re cool? Suraya.

Billy Mays would be proud.

Food Rundown

Baba Ganoush

Smokey and sweet from the pomegranate seeds. The perfect way to start things off.

Samke Nayyeh

If you’re a fan of crudos, get this. It’s simple, light, and flavorful, and honestly just really nice to look at. Not that you should be attracted to your food, but we digress.

Sawdat Djej

A bit too rich, but the pomegranate molasses is delicious to dip your pita in. We wouldn’t blame you for ordering it just for that.

Fatar Meshwi

Delicious, crispy mushrooms that have been marinated in some sort of vinaigrette are the perfect contrast to the yogurt sauce underneath. Do not skip this.

Batata Harra

Spicy potatoes with just a bit of sweetness. Get at least one order for the table.

Fatteh

The best mezze on the menu. Chickpeas, eggplant, crispy pita, and nuts over tehina yogurt. You’re supposed to eat it with pita, but feel free to just eat it with a spoon. It’s that good.

Kawarma

Our favorite meat dish on the menu. The lamb is tender and practically falls apart as you cut it, and the sauce with it is sweet and tangy. We have definitely ordered a second one of these to-go and eaten it for dinner the next night by ourselves, with a few candles and Marvin Gaye playing softly in the background.

Abu Sayf

Honestly everything you’ll eat here will be good, but if you have to cut something, let it be this grilled halibut kebab.

Samke Harra

This is one of the better whole fishes we have encountered, and you should get it if you are especially hungry or sharing with a friend.

Kanafeh

The only dessert you should be getting. It’s like a sweet grilled cheese. Need we say more?

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