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Suraya in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood
Melissa Alam

Where to Eat Middle Eastern Food in Philly

Creamy hummus, crunchy falafel, tender kebabs

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Suraya in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood
| Melissa Alam

Though often relegated to cheap eats lists — and there are certainly affordable eateries here — Philadelphia’s Middle Eastern restaurants range in price and atmosphere, from low-key neighborhood spots serving kebabs for decades to buzzy newcomers with modern takes on ancient cuisines, like Zahav, an Israeli restaurant racking up national awards.

Some of the restaurants here are halal, and some offer an array of vegetarian and vegan options. You’ll also spot a few that aren’t strictly Middle Eastern, but have enough similarities to make sense on this list, and will hopefully satisfy any grilled lamb, baba ghanoush, or pita craving.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Caspian Grille

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Lafayette Hill’s Caspian Grille has been serving Persian fare for over three decades. Kebabs — including lamb, salmon, and Iranian-style ground meat — are available on platters with rice or packed into pitas, and for dessert there’s rice pudding with rose water. Along with the restaurant, there’s an outpost inside the Flourtown Farmers Market in Flourtown, Pennsylvania.

In the morning, head to Suraya in Fishtown for Lebanese flatbreads and pastries, like the light-as-air pistachio cruller. Evenings bring dinner service featuring hummus, kebabs, whole fish, arak cocktails, and dessert drizzled with rose blossom syrup. Walk through the attractive restaurant to the sprawling al fresco space, which feels a world away from Philly.

baba ganoush with pomegranate seeds Melissa Alam

Apricot Stone

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Chef Fimy Ishkhanian made a name for herself on the Main Line before heading to Northern Liberties with Apricot Stone, a relaxed BYOB serving a blend of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Armenian dishes, like manti, beef-stuffed grape leaves, fattoush, and lamb kebabs.

Manakeesh Cafe Bakery & Grill

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First-timers at this Lebanese cafe in University City should start with the breakfast flatbread, baked over an open flame and topped with meat or prepared vegetarian with cheese or yogurt and veggies. Another must-try is anything from the assortment of sweets, like baklava, sticky basboosa, or dairy-free halwa.

Saad's Halal Restaurant

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Ignore the American side of Saad’s menu — full of burgers and cheesesteaks — and go for the bevy of Middle Eastern options at this counter-service spot in University City. In addition to a few kinds of kebabs and shawarma, there are dozens of meat-free offerings. Falafel comes topped with baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, feta, or hummus.

Kamal’s Middle Eastern Specialities 

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For more than 30 years, the Albarouki family has been soaking chickpeas every night and turning them into fresh falafel every morning for their Reading Terminal Market stall. Kamal’s is also known for its fresh juices and smoothies, like the lemonana, a minty lemonade with rose water.

Dizengoff (multiple locations)

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What started out as Philly’s favorite hummus at Zahav is the star at counter-service spot Dizengoff. Michael Solomonov’s recipe includes a healthy dose of tahini, creating an extra-creamy texture and nutty flavor. Toppings rotate daily and often include lamb and vegetables like carrots or cauliflower, all scooped up with hearth-baked pita.

hummus
Dizengoff
Dizengoff [official photo]

Goldie (multiple locations)

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Falafel shop Goldie keeps the menu short and sweet. There’s a falafel sandwich, a salad topped with falafel, shawarma-spiced fries, and the city’s coolest vegan milkshake. In fact, everything here is vegan.

fries, shakes, and falafel in a pita Michael Persico

Spice Finch

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At the Warwick Hotel in Rittenhouse, chefs Jen Carroll and Billy Riddle’s Spice Finch pulls from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines for dishes like farro-stuffed grape leaves and date-braised lamb shank. The restaurant opens early for breakfast and stays open late (there’s a roomy bar).

Justin Blasi

Sahara Grill

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In Center City, Sahara Grill serves up affordable platters of hummus, falafel, kebabs, and shawarma. The mixed-grill entree with a variety of meats and sides is a good place to start, or go for the Lebanese-style sandwiches, which come stuffed with fries and pickles.

Mamoun’s Falafel

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Mamoun’s, a New York City-based falafel chain that dates back to the early 1970s, now has a location in Philly. The Old City outpost has quickly become a staple for quick-serve pita sandwiches stuffed with falafel, shawarma, or lamb.

three pita sandwiches in yellow basket Mamoun’s Falafel [official photo]

Ariana Restaurant

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In Old City, Ariana is a favorite for flavorful Afghan dinners (it’s an especially good option before a movie at the Ritz). Along with a number of kebabs, rice dishes are popular at this BYOB. Try the norange palow, a rosewater-scented combination of lamb, saffron rice, nuts, and orange peel.

Book well in advance for a table at the always-buzzing Zahav, Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook’s standout Israeli restaurant. Diners can order al la carte or opt for the $48 tasting menu, which includes hummus, laffa, mezze, a grilled dish (like hanger steak), and dessert. Or go for the mesibah prix fixe meal, which comes with one of Philly’s most iconic dishes: a whole lamb shoulder, hardwood-smoked and braised in pomegranate molasses, served over Persian wedding rice.

lamb dish with chickpeas Michael Persico

Sansom Kabob House

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Sansom Kabob House, relocated from Sansom Street to bigger, brighter digs on South Street, serves up Afghan cuisine with options for carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. Every dish comes with rice, salad, and bread — the bread recipe was passed down from the chef’s great-great grandfather, who was a baker. The restaurant is BYOB.

Isot Restaurant

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This small, stylish BYOB off South Street serves Turkish dishes diners won’t find in too many other Philly restaurants, like ali nazik (lamb and eggplant in a yogurt garlic sauce) or kasap kofte (charbroiled ground beef and lamb patties). It’s also a solid option for brunch — try the flaky spinach gozleme.

Al Zaytouna

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Fans of the tart yogurt dip labneh will be happy to find it on the appetizer menu at Al Zaytouna, served with warm pita for under $6. The warm stuffed grape leaves are another good choice. Other hits at this low-key spot also include the chicken kebab, shawarma, and hummus. Bring a bottle of wine or some beer if you plan to dine in.

Bitar's

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Casual corner spot Bitar’s has been selling Lebanese dishes and groceries in South Philly for decades. Try a za’atar-dusted flatbread topped with tomatoes and feta — called a “bitzza” in a play on pizza — or go sweet with a thick piece of pistachio baklava.

Caspian Grille

Lafayette Hill’s Caspian Grille has been serving Persian fare for over three decades. Kebabs — including lamb, salmon, and Iranian-style ground meat — are available on platters with rice or packed into pitas, and for dessert there’s rice pudding with rose water. Along with the restaurant, there’s an outpost inside the Flourtown Farmers Market in Flourtown, Pennsylvania.

Suraya

baba ganoush with pomegranate seeds Melissa Alam

In the morning, head to Suraya in Fishtown for Lebanese flatbreads and pastries, like the light-as-air pistachio cruller. Evenings bring dinner service featuring hummus, kebabs, whole fish, arak cocktails, and dessert drizzled with rose blossom syrup. Walk through the attractive restaurant to the sprawling al fresco space, which feels a world away from Philly.

baba ganoush with pomegranate seeds Melissa Alam

Apricot Stone

Chef Fimy Ishkhanian made a name for herself on the Main Line before heading to Northern Liberties with Apricot Stone, a relaxed BYOB serving a blend of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Armenian dishes, like manti, beef-stuffed grape leaves, fattoush, and lamb kebabs.

Manakeesh Cafe Bakery & Grill

First-timers at this Lebanese cafe in University City should start with the breakfast flatbread, baked over an open flame and topped with meat or prepared vegetarian with cheese or yogurt and veggies. Another must-try is anything from the assortment of sweets, like baklava, sticky basboosa, or dairy-free halwa.

Saad's Halal Restaurant

Ignore the American side of Saad’s menu — full of burgers and cheesesteaks — and go for the bevy of Middle Eastern options at this counter-service spot in University City. In addition to a few kinds of kebabs and shawarma, there are dozens of meat-free offerings. Falafel comes topped with baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, feta, or hummus.

Kamal’s Middle Eastern Specialities 

For more than 30 years, the Albarouki family has been soaking chickpeas every night and turning them into fresh falafel every morning for their Reading Terminal Market stall. Kamal’s is also known for its fresh juices and smoothies, like the lemonana, a minty lemonade with rose water.

Dizengoff (multiple locations)

hummus
Dizengoff
Dizengoff [official photo]

What started out as Philly’s favorite hummus at Zahav is the star at counter-service spot Dizengoff. Michael Solomonov’s recipe includes a healthy dose of tahini, creating an extra-creamy texture and nutty flavor. Toppings rotate daily and often include lamb and vegetables like carrots or cauliflower, all scooped up with hearth-baked pita.

hummus
Dizengoff
Dizengoff [official photo]

Goldie (multiple locations)

fries, shakes, and falafel in a pita Michael Persico

Falafel shop Goldie keeps the menu short and sweet. There’s a falafel sandwich, a salad topped with falafel, shawarma-spiced fries, and the city’s coolest vegan milkshake. In fact, everything here is vegan.

fries, shakes, and falafel in a pita Michael Persico

Spice Finch

Justin Blasi

At the Warwick Hotel in Rittenhouse, chefs Jen Carroll and Billy Riddle’s Spice Finch pulls from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines for dishes like farro-stuffed grape leaves and date-braised lamb shank. The restaurant opens early for breakfast and stays open late (there’s a roomy bar).

Justin Blasi

Sahara Grill

In Center City, Sahara Grill serves up affordable platters of hummus, falafel, kebabs, and shawarma. The mixed-grill entree with a variety of meats and sides is a good place to start, or go for the Lebanese-style sandwiches, which come stuffed with fries and pickles.

Mamoun’s Falafel

three pita sandwiches in yellow basket Mamoun’s Falafel [official photo]

Mamoun’s, a New York City-based falafel chain that dates back to the early 1970s, now has a location in Philly. The Old City outpost has quickly become a staple for quick-serve pita sandwiches stuffed with falafel, shawarma, or lamb.

three pita sandwiches in yellow basket Mamoun’s Falafel [official photo]

Ariana Restaurant

In Old City, Ariana is a favorite for flavorful Afghan dinners (it’s an especially good option before a movie at the Ritz). Along with a number of kebabs, rice dishes are popular at this BYOB. Try the norange palow, a rosewater-scented combination of lamb, saffron rice, nuts, and orange peel.

Zahav

lamb dish with chickpeas Michael Persico

Book well in advance for a table at the always-buzzing Zahav, Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook’s standout Israeli restaurant. Diners can order al la carte or opt for the $48 tasting menu, which includes hummus, laffa, mezze, a grilled dish (like hanger steak), and dessert. Or go for the mesibah prix fixe meal, which comes with one of Philly’s most iconic dishes: a whole lamb shoulder, hardwood-smoked and braised in pomegranate molasses, served over Persian wedding rice.

lamb dish with chickpeas Michael Persico

Sansom Kabob House

Sansom Kabob House, relocated from Sansom Street to bigger, brighter digs on South Street, serves up Afghan cuisine with options for carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. Every dish comes with rice, salad, and bread — the bread recipe was passed down from the chef’s great-great grandfather, who was a baker. The restaurant is BYOB.

Isot Restaurant

This small, stylish BYOB off South Street serves Turkish dishes diners won’t find in too many other Philly restaurants, like ali nazik (lamb and eggplant in a yogurt garlic sauce) or kasap kofte (charbroiled ground beef and lamb patties). It’s also a solid option for brunch — try the flaky spinach gozleme.

Related Maps

Al Zaytouna

Fans of the tart yogurt dip labneh will be happy to find it on the appetizer menu at Al Zaytouna, served with warm pita for under $6. The warm stuffed grape leaves are another good choice. Other hits at this low-key spot also include the chicken kebab, shawarma, and hummus. Bring a bottle of wine or some beer if you plan to dine in.

Bitar's

Casual corner spot Bitar’s has been selling Lebanese dishes and groceries in South Philly for decades. Try a za’atar-dusted flatbread topped with tomatoes and feta — called a “bitzza” in a play on pizza — or go sweet with a thick piece of pistachio baklava.

Related Maps