It’s Mamnoon’s upmarket grain-bowl-and-juice-bar takeout, in Amazon’s Doppler building downtown. And out of it comes food as global, refined, and healthful as any you will find at Mamnoon’s other properties. Consider the mujaddara: A warm foundation of brown rice and green lentils is topped with a heap of pickled red cabbage, pumpkin seeds spiced with Aleppo pepper, and a creamy dollop of garlic yogurt. This dish mingles the sour with the tart, the sweet with the savory, the high notes with the bass notes, and a brilliant spectrum of textures and colors. Super fun to eat. The classy little vegetarian spot is mostly takeout, with just a few seats.
In a quiet corner of Capitol Hill, wedged between a 7-Eleven parking lot and a teriyaki joint, lies Aviv Hummus Bar, a bright antidote to its ho-hum surroundings. Falafel takes a quick dip in the fryer before it arrives, hot and fresh, as does warm pita alongside a bowl of creamy, showstopping hummus: A wooden pestle swirls the Levantine spread, creating a well for tahina and whole chickpeas bathed olive oil.
The cozy Madrona restaurant imparts a primer on Turkish cuisine, long underrepresented in this town. Within these red walls, decorated with art that might be in someone’s classy home, diners can choose dolmas heady with currants and herbs; panfried zucchini pancakes called mucver; or first-rate Mediterranean dips, from hummus to cacik (Turkish tzatziki) to baba ghanoush (order the Turkuaz Plate to get them all, along with triangles of warm pita). Select from among an array of meat kebabs: zestily marinated, if occasionally overgrilled. Given the otherwise fine performance of this neighborhood jewel, you won’t mind.
All the promising signals are here in this Turkish cafe in Wallingford—home-painted sign, framed family photos of the old country on the walls, owner Sedat Uysal (who also owns Cafe Paloma in Pioneer Square) holding forth with friends on the front sidewalk. Best is the food, an Anatolian assortment of mezes, salads, and veg-heavy mains—börek to falafel to zucchini pancakes with yogurt—made with freshness and care and priced in the $15 range. Of special note are the full-bodied hummus—brilliant lavished on the fat, yeasty housemade pide bread—and the tavuk bohça, folded phyllo packets of savory leeks and chicken freshened with walnuts and pear, alongside a wild salad fruity with pomegranate molasses.
Seattle used to be full of global treasures run with care in neighborhood storefronts by homecooking expats. Now there are only a few, one of the best being this authentic Lebanese mom-and-pop with often lovely Middle Eastern food. Prices are strikingly low for the shared hummus plates (try the one topped with lamb and pinenuts), mezze dips and spreads, moist meat and vegetable kebabs, and family-style platters, which one enjoys in an intimate room with arched doorways, white tablecloths, and pretty filigree light pendants. The perfect date night.
The family behind the venerable Cherry Street Coffee House also runs this amiable all-day cafe, which combines third wave coffee with a slightly Australian-style breakfast menu (think toasts and waffles sweet and savory), but also gyro, falafel, and deeply flavored Persian rice bowls for lunch, a nod to owner Ali Ghambari's heritage. Not to mention cocktails whenever you might need them—all enveloped in the Weyerhaeuser Building’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
The unassuming vibe of your typical Belltown counter service lunch joint belies its destinationworthy menu—and it’s all vegetarian. An Israeli street food tableau of falafel, tahini-drizzled hummus, and shakshuka await, along with the sabich, an Iraqi sandwich that stuffs fried eggplant, hummus, eggs, and a bright medley of salad into the fluffiest of pita. Solid fries, too. The accompanying views into the glassblowing studio next door is the sort of random amenity that makes a place feel genuine.
It looks like a hole-in-the-wall from the street, but inside candles, white tablecloths, and live guitar music some nights impart a down-to-earth brand of elegance. The cover of the menu reveals how the city of Kabul originated, and upon turning its pages diners are invited to choose their own culinary adventure. Paper-thin unleavened Afghan bread becomes a vehicle for jan-i amma, a delicate and soothing combination of yogurt, minced cucumbers, onions, and mint. The qorma-i sabzi, a soft melange of spinach and scallions, is dressed with cilantro and served beside a bed of basmati rice boldly seasoned with coriander and turmeric. Yes, vegetarians are uncommonly well-served here, but meat dishes shine, like the savory kebab murgh, a chicken filet marinated deeply in yogurt, garlic, turmeric, and a hint of cayenne pepper.
It may be hard to believe there’s a serious Middle Eastern kitchen behind the sleek surfaces and throbby technopop of this modern cosmopolitan spot across from Melrose Market. But Mamnoon, which means “thankful” in Arabic, has an old soul. Dishes from Syria and Lebanon are built around bread: man’oushe flatbread that’s topped like pizza with spices and cheeses and meats, the lunchtime kulage sandwiches made with pita, unforgettably rich yet featherweight khobz bi fliefleh known as olive oil bread that’s slathered with fiery hot pepper paste. Around all this pastry, the menu arises in elegant coherence, offering spreads like hummus and an astonishing muhammara, enough vegetables to excite the herbivores (try the wickedly crusty cauliflower florets served with parsley and tarrtor), and soups and salads and fish and meats. High end, consistent, nuanced, and genuinely exotic—there is nothing else quite like this in Seattle. A lunchtime takeout window turns it into underpriced street food; a quick-and-casual concept is likewise replicated on Sixth Ave downtown at Mamnoon Street.
This low-key First Ave outpost, all pale woods and soothing pastels, specializes in pide—leavened flatbreads filled with spiced meats and veggies, so they resemble a torpedo-shaped Turkish pizza. Or grab a beyti kebab, gyro meat cooked in dough then doused in tomato sauce and yogurt. Either way, the food’s a welcome addition to Seattle’s halal offerings.
Middle Eastern wraps make profoundly great street food, yet in Seattle they never approach the ubiquity of their tortilla’d and bunned brethren. So Yalla, a new walk-up window on East Olive Way, fills a wanting niche. Working on rounds of saj, the unleavened Palestinian flat bread, chef Taylor Cheney spreads lively, nuanced flavors. Fixed accents—olives, mint, cucumber, tomato, and arugula—meet a rotating array of fillings: za’atar, kishk (bulgur fermented with yogurt), or lahme khuruf, an ideally spiced mix of lamb and pine nuts that emphasizes the meat’s sweetness over its funk.