2017 has brought so many things to the proverbial (and literal) table already. I’m talking the gym memberships we’ve all abandoned, plants that are already browning, and diets are becoming a thing of the past. I think we can all band together and say thank the heavens, because it was a very long two weeks, amirite?!
But never fear, my garlic-loving friends, 2017 has brought you the gift of this list and its contents: 12 of the best damn Lebanese restaurants in Sydney. And I assure you, it was taken very seriously, No kibbeh went uneaten, no shish taouk was ignored, and no baba went un-ganujed. We tried ‘em all like it was our damn job (well, it is), and here they are, just for you. Happy eating, friends!
The best thing about this wonderful home-style restaurant in Lakemba is, well, everything. But if you want to get specific, then the best thing is knowing that pretty much everything these guys serve is made with love on-site. The result? The creamiest, most moreish hummus in all the lands, juicy AF chicken and more juicy lamb than you’ll know what to do with (hint: eat it). It’s all about family style dining here, which is why you’ll no doubt become a regular in no time.
Side note: Jasmin1 is still alive and kickin’ in Leichhardt if that’s more local to you, and just as delicious.
Holy garlic sauce, man! Bring a swimming cap, because you will be diving straight into this institution. ICYMI, El Jannah’s five branches serve up hefty helpings of juicy, moreish chicken that is well worth leaving your bubble for (if you’re not lucky enough to live nearby, that is). Shawarma roll, beef burger, whole chicken or the whole shebang… There’s no wrong way to enjoy Sydney’s best Lebanese charcoal chicken joint. Just slather it in garlic sauce and ask for extra. Like, extra extra... You can never have enough.
Fatima’s Lebanese Restaurant
Belly dancers, well-priced banquets, delicious falafels… Everything you need is happening down at Fatima’s Lebanese Restaurant in Surry Hills. The friendly faces at Fatima’s are always welcoming, the mixed grill is fresh as anything, and the hummus is smoother than Ryan Gosling’s behind (if my dreams are anything to go by). If you’re heading in for a celebration, then the banquets are your best bet; well-priced, generous, and they pretty much guarantee your stomach’s version of a thumbs up. Happy days.
Yes, it's a bakery, yes I’m fully aware this is different to a restaurant, no I don’t need a dictionary, and yes you absolutely need to make this one a priority. Because who doesn’t want to get balls deep in some of the best baklava in town? And so, so much more. Naturally, Abla’s Pastries is family owned, which makes their delicious cakes, biscuits, ice cream, and pastries so much sweeter when they pass your lips. They’ve been in the biz for 30 years, so you know you can trust them for your fix of honeyed Lebanese goodness. Onwards!
Emma’s Snack Bar
Emma’s Snack Bar is everything you want in a Lebanese restaurant. It’s cosy, friendly, well priced, and juuuuust modern enough that it keeps that perfect mix of old and new. See? Everything. Sitting happily in Enmore, Emma’s quickly gained a loyal following among locals while inviting foodies from far and wide to make a pilgrimage for mouth-watering mezze and homestyle kebabs that are always made with love. Of course, if you’re dining in a group, there’s a meat or vegetarian banquet option to feed the hungriest of groups, as well as plenty of Arak, if that’s your thing.
Greenacre & Alexandria
Since the first Al Aseel opened its doors in Greenacre over a decade ago, it has frequently been on our lists of the best Lebanese restaurants in Sydney, as well as the topic of many conversations about the most authentic. So here it is, everybody, the award-winning Al Aseel, worth every minute you spend getting your behind off the couch and through the door. If you just can’t wait until lunch, these guys offer a delectable Lebanese breakfast, but if you’re more of a later in the day eater, go in with a group to cover your bases. Pack your eating pants, friends, this is one not to be missed.
I say bak, you say lava! Bak! *waits*. Thank you. Who doesn’t love a bajillion layers of flaky, honey-soaked pastry, citrus, spices, and honey? Yup, no-one. You’ll find a literal tower of it at Sabbagh, as well as countless other tempting Lebanese goodies waiting to be stuffed into your face. If you’re less into the sticky stuff, the sugar-dusted shortbread will make you forget any of your earthly problems; and you’ll probably end up buying ten to take home then eating them in the car. Finally, the Kanafeh: moreish, life-changing Kanafeh. Don’t leave without at least three. GO!
Cedrus Lebanese Restaurant
What do you do when it’s a special occasion, but the need for mezze is just too strong? You go to Cedrus, of course! This Ryde restaurant is famous for its fresh produce, fine-dining feel (no pretentiousness here, no sir!), and authentic food offering. Get your fix of muhammara and sambousik to start, but be sure to save room for the lamb mansaf, so unbelievably moreish. If you feel the need to branch out, the barbecued quails are a gift from heaven… Or, the seafood platter will satisfy anyone with a hankering for some home cooking.
Lebanon & Beyond
I do believe that this is what Buzz Lightyear would call his perfectly delicious, unbelievably authentic Sydney Lebanese restaurant if he had one. But he doesn’t. Between you and me, Lebanon & Beyond hits all of the other criteria. These guys will always greet you with a welcoming smile and a plate of juicy garlic chicken or crunchy fried kibbe. If you’re more veggie inclined, the Sheikh el mishi will rock you twice around the world and back in the very first bite. Thank me later.
Well well well, would you look at that? A pop-up restaurant in Surry Hills. But Cubby’s Kitchen is legit, and you should make it your damn business to get down there quick smart. Sitting happily on Crown Street, Cubby’s Kitchen is a welcome addition to our restaurant repertoire, and its Japanese twist on a classic Middle Eastern offering is sending us crazy with hunger. Take the baba ganoush for example, it’s mixed with sweet miso… And we dig it. Hard. Don’t panic, every single one of your favourite dishes are there waiting to be enjoyed, as well as a stellar selection of wine and cocktails. Hungry?
This Glebe Point Road restaurant caught our attention with its hot pink signage and mouth-watering menu in 2015, then kept us going with delicious cocktails and moreish Lebanese fried chicken with smooth garlic sauce that will make your Tinder date go in for the kiss early. It’s that good. Of course, this modern establishment has kicked things up with a badass cocktail list, full of Middle Eastern-inspired flavours with a Sydney twist. Make Thievery the spot for your Friday night dinner that gets a little out of hand, but you’re not even mad because it was just that good.
Don’t panic, but these guys have put a blanket ban on baba ganoush. “THEY WHAT?!” I hear you whimper. Calm down, Anita, Nour is still a ripper of a Lebanese restaurant, they’re just more focused on letting each ingredient shine. And shine it does, with this oh so Surry Hills menu, brimming with small plates and larger dishes you won't be able to choose between. The charcoal octopus is mandatory, so make that the first item on your agenda, and be sure to hit the vegetables… Hard. They’re the stars of the show. Closely followed by the lamb shoulder and snapper. Actually, there’s no wrong thing to order here, so just go ahead and try it all.
For an equally delicious feast, check out our ultimate Italian food bucket list, here.
Al Aseel | Image credit: Caitlin Hicks