more parsley than you can shake a really big sprig of parsley at

Michele ate her first Lebanese meal today. From a place with a name that’s really fun to say: Ya Hala. It’s a bit of a drive (like, five minutes), over at 80th & Stark, but it’s on our way home from Target and probably doable by bike. I didn’t feel like cooking, since we’re having a big errand-running weekend between visitors, and Tom had gone there for lunch with coworkers this week and was pretty impressed.

What moved this plain Jane to try such exotic new food? Aside from the fact that I wanted to make my own tabouli and needed a second opinion (other than Whole Foods’), the menu is beautifully spelled out for you (misspellings aside). The ingredients are given for pretty much everything…and vegetarian items have a little asterisk next to them…and vegan items have two little asterisks next to them.

So here’s their tabouli. Next to no bulgar, but it comes with a bunch of pita, so it was sorta like a Middle Eastern bruschetta. Super good. I think when I make my tabouli, it’ll be a combination of the two I’ve had now, very veg-heavy but with a bulgar base.

And I had the fatayer, with one ripped open so y’all could take a peek inside. Here’s the description: “Three small pies, baked fresh when you order. Vegans particularly enjoy the melange of spinach, onions, sumac, and lemon juice, encased in patry pockets.” Oh, do they? And “patry” is apparently Lebonese for “pastry.” This was a little soggy but decent. A little too much lemon juice, if I were to be asked my opinion. Cold leftovers were actually better.

Tom gave the hummus (they spell it homous…tomato, tomato) a thumbs-up. Nice garlic and lemon balance—not too tahini-bitter.

And the falafel. You get five of these babies. And yeah, they’re pretty green. It’s garbanzo and fava beans with onion, cilantro, parsley, and spices. Served with a tahini sauce, tomato-parsley medley, and more pita. Also super good. This is probably the only thing I wouldn’t bother trying to make on my own. I just don’t think I could do this right.

So let’s hear it for Lebonese food, huh? This big ol’ feast was under $20, and we still have leftovers after snacking on our leftovers. There’s a bunch more stuff on the menu we want to try: stuffed grape leaves, swiss chard soup, and fatoush (lettuce, tomato, parsley, mint, radishes, bell peppers, lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, and pita chips). And with the ingredients listed as they are, that’s practically a recipe.

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