Top 5 Middle Eastern
Sydney’s always been a great place to eat the food of the Eastern Mediterranean – delicious shared feasts of dips, salads, flatbread and charcoal-grilled meat, less expensive and healthier than a lot of other offerings, mainly along Cleveland Street in the city and in the south-western suburbs. But recently we’ve seen some new kids on the block taking the flavours of Lebanon, Turkey, Israel and surrounds and creating fun new spaces that still offer great value but with a lighter touch, more diversity of flavour and interesting drinks lists.
Somer Sivrioglu brings the casual bars of Istanbul’s Bosporus shore to Sydney’s Barangaroo. From traditional simit (sesame-studded rings of chewy bread) and juicy lahmacun (minced beef ‘pizza’) to duck sujuk (sausage) and veal tongue in steamed ‘pita’, there’s the familiar and the innovative, with a great list of Turkish wine.
This bustling, designer-distressed space (by the guys behind Eat Art Truck food truck), hosts an innovative cocktail list and a menu full of Middle Eastern twists. Filo ‘cigars’ of bastourma, halloumi and fermented chilli are addictive and LFC (Lebanese fried chicken) with squid ink garlic sauce has an almost-cult following.
Kepos Street Kitchen Redfern
This cute corner café with a display cabinet full of the most tempting cakes is also home to Israeli-born Michael Rantissi’s menu of classics (Tel Aviv falafel with green tahini) and café-style dishes studded with Middle Eastern flavours (pomegranate, dukkah, harissa, carob molasses). It’s all so fresh and tasty!
Look beyond the street front 1950s ‘Marie Louise Hair Stylist’ signage to Turkish tiles and paisley swirled wallpaper. At the downstairs marble bar or upstairs tables, feast on fabulous sheep’s cheese-filled zucchini flowers, tender charcoal-grilled octopus with tarama and crunchy fresh salads, alongside an impressive raki list.
You only survive for over 20 years in a city full of such bright new kids by doing something right – and this long time favourite proves the point with closely packed, laminate tables covered in some of the silkiest hommous, smokiest baba ghanoush, crispest falafel, pickles, kebabs and super fresh Lebanese bread 7 days a week.