Since we’ve been here in Dubai, we’ve been eating at pretty much all the American chains, catching up with our favorite restaurants. After bemoaning the fact that we haven’t actually had much food FROM this region, we went in search of something different. My friend noticed during her last trip to the mall (life seems pretty centered around the mall here) that there was one restaurant actually filled with Emerati in traditional garb, which we took as a good sign. This sign did not lead us astray! A Lebanese restaurant that’s apparently a chain in the UAE, Leila served us some delicious Middle Eastern cuisine tonight.

Not only that, but it is one of the only meals I’ve had since I’ve been here where I felt like I was really eating fresh food and vegetables, but not ending up in the vegan with a salad at an omni-restaurant rut. Okay okay, I’ve eaten pretty well, but it’s hard to turn away guacamole when it’s an option. Anyway, my point is I actually felt like what I was eating was somewhat healthy.

We were one of two groups of people not wearing the traditional robes in the restaurant. Weirdly enough, though I’ve been in Dubai over a week now, I have no met nor seen so many people from here. This was the first time I finally/actually felt I was in another country.

On to the food! The dish at the top was called Fattet bathenjen, which was eggplants served with traditional Lebanese bread, garlic and pine nuts (we asked for the yoghurt on the side). It was one of the favorites of the night, I’d say.

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For my drink I got a peach iced tea. It was was too sweet for me, but good. I couldn’t finish the whole thing. Mostly I got it because I asked the waiter if it was very sweet and he said no. I guess we have different tastes.2013-09-12 19.47.49

Of course we got some stuffed grape leaves, Warek enab. Yum.

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I’ve gotten versions of this salad called Fattoush a few different places now. Gotta get my greens in and I love the crunchy pitas on top!

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Of course, some Tabbouleh, a traditional Lebanese salad made from parsley, tomatoes, onions and lemon dressing, to round out the mix. I am not a huge tabbouleh fan, but it was better than most I’ve tried!

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This was super yummy too. It was called Loubieh bil zeit and was poached green beans with olive oil and lemon juice.2013-09-12 19.49.02 These beauties were called Betata bel kezbara, fried potato cubes mixed with garlic, lemon pepper and fresh coriander. You got me at fried potatoes and coriander. Mmmm.

All of these dishes were Mezze, so we got a bunch of them and shared. It was a good idea as we all got to try a bit of everything!

If you are ever in the UAE, I definitely recommend swinging my Leila! Though it’s in a mall, it is freaking delicious, and really, everything seems to be in a mall here, so that can’t be used as a judgement.