Restaurant Review: Lebanese Taverna

From tangy tzatziki to fluffy falafel, Lebanese cuisine is loved among many people across the world. 

Lebanese Cuisine is an important part of Lebanese culture and tradition. The article, “The Ultimate Guide To Lebanese Cuisine, a Rich and Distinct Food Culture,” in The Manual magazine describes how the food is heavily influenced by the surrounding environment. 

For one, it combines Turkish, Arab, and French cooking styles. Due to access to the mediterranean sea, Lebanese Cuisine contains a lot of seafood which is added to the staples of grains, vegetables, poultry, dairy, and red meat such as lamb.

Traditionally in cafes and restaurants, Lebanese food is served in the form of a mezze. Mezze is an assortment of dishes, ranging from cheese to meats to raw vegetables and, most importantly, pita bread. Almost every Lebanese dish is served with pita, Lebanon’s staple. 

Lebanese Taverna is rated a 4.3-star restaurant on Yelp. They have over 40 menu items ranging from Lebanese pizzas to traditional Lebanese staples, such as kibbeh, shawarma, falafel, and kebabs. 

The Lebanese Tarverna has been a local favorite for literally decades. The first Lebanese Taverna opened in 1979 in the Arlington Westover neighborhood, only a few miles from Longfellow. The restaurant was founded by immigrants Tanios and Marie Abi-Najm, who had come to the U.S. to flee the civil war in their home country of Lebanon. They wanted to bring Lebanese Culture along with them to the United States and spread traditions among customers.

As Middle Easterners, we wanted to try the food at Lebanese Taverna and see how it stacks up to the food we know. We ordered Kebbeh, Shawarma, falafel, and a chocolate lava cake.

The Kebbeh was warm and flavorful with the perfect amount of sweet and salty. The chicken Shawarma was juicy and flavorful, with sauces that made our mouths drool. Lebanese Taverna served us authentic falafel that tasted like it came from my grandma’s kitchen, crunchy on the outside but soft and creamy on the inside. For dessert, we had a chocolate lava cake that was perfectly moist with chocolate sauce oozing from the center. The food that was served was great overall and definitely deserves a second visit.

After our visit, we asked if we could interview the chef that prepared our meals at the Galleria Mall at Tysons.

Ethan: What is your favorite or least favorite dish to prepare? 

Chef:  Chicken Shawarma because I have made it so many times, and it is delicious.

Ethan: Name the three kitchen tools you can’t do without?

Chef: Wooden spatula, sheet pans, Measuring tools.

Ethan: Name two of your strengths and two of your weaknesses as a chef?

Chef: I would say my two strengths are cooking my food quickly and well another strength is that I’m really clean with my cooking area. Some of my weaknesses 

are setting up my food to look good and making the sauces.

Ethan: What chefs do you look up to?

Chef: I would say Nour Al-Zaben; she makes the most eccentric dishes with beautiful presentations. 

Ethan: What is the work environment like at Lebanese Taverna?

Chef: My coworkers are great. Everyone is kind and treats each other like a big family. I really love working here and couldn’t ask for more.

From our perspective as middle easterners, Lebanese Taverna has respected tradition and, through food and environment, helped us feel close to our culture and heritage. Its casual yet stylish setting serves as an example of authentic Lebanese culture.