Suraya is not a date night destination. You need a group to really appreciate this restaurant, which has perhaps the most sophisticated unusual selection of Levantine mezze (small appetizer plates) in the United States. Grazing through the menu is the main fun of dining here, whether you're exclaiming over the Lebanese version of sushi (a dazzling plate of raw yellowtail daubed with yogurt and herbs and spiked with jalapeño slivers); tucking into a mini frying pan of meltingly tender eggplant and chickpeas (smothered in crushed nuts, tahini labna, and crispy pita chips); or realizing that the ancient texts were probably referring to hummus and not wine when they extolled the "nectar of the gods." Beyond the mezze, there are puffy pillows of pita baked in the wood fired oven at the heart of the dining room, juicy kebabs of all sorts, and exquisite seafood dishes. To wash it down: cocktails made with the "milk of lions," a.k.a. arak, a Middle Eastern liquor that's close to anise in flavor. Yes, the menu is built for groups, but so, too, is the space: an airplane hangar-sized room that would dwarf a cozy twosome. Smartly designed to dampen noise (there are sound-absorbing panels across the ceiling), it has the vibe of a souk—elaborate tiles, stalactite shaped hanging lamps, and a battalion of bustling waiters. During the day, this is a market and cafe; when the weather is nice, it opens to an outdoor garden. If you want to dine with Philly's cool kids, head here.
Suraya Market, Restaurant & Garden
1528 Frankford Ave.
Our Rating Neighborhood Fishtown Hours Market open daily 7am–5pm; restaurant Sun–Thurs 5–10pm, Fri–Sat 5–11pm Transportation Subway: Berks Station or Girard Station Phone 215/302-1900 Prices About $30/person depending on how you order; food is meant to be shared Cuisine Type Lebanese Web site Suraya
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