Open since 1990, the family-owned Lebanese Taverna received a much-needed renovation in 2012. The re-design added the inevitable bar (13 seats) and lounge, and created a contemporary look in the dining room that now intersperses natural walnut wood panels with hand-laid fieldstone walls, and crowns the room overall with a high sweep of white double-vaulted ceiling. The place feels streamlined and airy. The menu continues to emphasize traditional Middle Eastern dishes, but presents them in more up-to-date ways. For instance, the hummus bar offers five flavors (traditional, spicy, garlic, with beef or lamb and pine nuts, or with marinated chicken), 11 toppings, and four dippers (crackers, vegetables, fries, and pita toasts). Entrees, such as the lamb sharhat (sliced lamb loin with three green-herb sauce), and mezza items, from tabbouleh to spinach pastries, continue to draw the neighborhood here. All meals begin with fresh-from-the-oven puffs of pita bread with olive oil. The proper ending is an order of Turkish doughnuts, honey-drizzled creamy pudding on the side for dipping.
- Elise Hartman Ford