The Bottom Line
- Authentic, inventive menu
- Bold, elegant interior design
- Beautiful location overlooking marina
- Friendly, well-informed staff
- Great pita bread
- Outdoor diners cannot order alcohol due to liquor license restrictions
- Family-style sampling platters must be ordered by entire group
- Great pita bread (Don't fill up too quickly. Pace yourself.)
- Cuisine Type: Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Vegetarian
- Lebanese Taverna
- 719 S. President St.; Baltimore, MD 21202
- Phone: 410-244-5533
- Open Monday-Thursday 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday noon-11 p.m.; Sunday noon-9 p.m.
- Price: Moderate to expensive
- Recommended for kids: Yes
- Valet parking available.
Guide Review - Lebanese Taverna
The Abi-Najm family fled their native Lebanon in 1976 via cargo ship during the nations civil war and settled in Arlington, Va. Three years later, they bought a restaurant that would become the seed of an extremely successful and growing restaurant concept. Flash forward to May 2007: The Abi-Najms own and operate nine cafés, markets, and full-service restaurants in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland.
Baltimore's location - a marvelously designed space overlooking the marinas of Inner Harbor East - couldnt get much better. And a recent visit proved the menu couldnt be either. Every detail of every dish gets close attention.
The meal begins with baskets of hot, puffy pita and a zesty olive oil for dipping. Fava beans give the crunchy falafel a distinctive flavor. Kabobs, served with tangy yogurt herb sauces, are juicy and slightly pink inside. The thinly-sliced shawarma, rotisserie-style chicken, beef and lamb, is naturally a bit drier than the fat kabobs but still well seasoned.
The wide-ranging offerings include mezza dishes, or appetizers, such as nuggets of ground lamb, beef and almonds rolled in burghul wheat and main dishes such as fatteh bel djajeseared seasoned chicken layered with chickpeas and crispy pita chips and smothered with a warm yogurt sauce, toasted pine nuts and mint.
Slightly more expensive are the combination platters, which come with a medley of appetizers and entrees. The only drawback: The platters are expected to be shared and cannot be ordered by just one person in a group. Dinner prices range from $15 to $20, and platters are $19 to $29.
Lebanese Taverna also takes good care of the little ones. Our kids loved the mini pita burgers, which come with French fries and hummus. Pizza-like dishes and chicken tenders are also in the offing. But picky eaters could be out of luck.