BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT Minneapolis 2003 - Emily's Lebanese Deli
Tiny and well-worn, this beloved neighborhood spot just northeast of downtown Minneapolis is easy to miss. But do stop. The traditional selections, seasoned with a light hand, are delicious. Kibbi, for instance, "is like Lebanese meatloaf," explains a young woman with a rope of shiny black hair. Or maybe it's more like a pâté--ground beef, cracked wheat, cinnamon, cardamom, onions, and pine nuts, so fresh it's ordered raw as often as cooked. The chicken, beef, and lamb kebabs are heady with butter, garlic, and clove. Grape leaves rolled with rice and spiced lamb come with tangy, thick homemade yogurt; hummus bi-tahini is laced with lemon; baba ghanoush packs a garlicky punch; and the tabouli is parsley-mint fresh. Don't skip the baklawa (Lebanese baklava), with its layers of phyllo, butter, and walnuts, and sticky with honey-rosewater syrup. Entrées are all under $10 and come with tabouli and bread. It's perfect for takeout, or, if you want to learn more about the making of kafta (ground beef kebabs), mistah (thick golden bread), or real feta, hang around and eat in. Closed Tuesdays.