236 5th Avenue,
Phone: (212) 683-2929
Despite the fact that New York is a melting pot of cuisines, good Lebanese is not as easy to come by as you might think. Ilili breaks the mold by combining traditional Lebanese flavors with more modern Mediterranean ones. The menu at this sleek spot features classic Middle Eastern dishes, like hummus, tabbouleh, and Shish Taouk, as well as more non-traditional plates, like Duck Shawarma with a Fig Puree. One of our favorite finds at Ilili is the kibbe naye beirutieh, the steak tartare. In the past, they’ve featured a lamb version of the dish, which is the traditional way the Lebanese make tartare. No matter. They swapped the lamb out for steak, but what really matters are the customary seasonings, which include bulghur wheat, mint, onion and jalapeno. The bulghur lends texture, the mint an herbaceous freshness, and the jalapeno a dose of heat. The combination makes for an outstanding change of pace from the usual tartare.