Getting to Know Seattle: Cafe Munir

Cafe Munir is in the Loyal Heights neighborhood of Seattle, about a 15 minute drive from where I live. Sara and I went there a few years ago, had a great dinner, and vowed to go back — which, given the profusion of new restaurants, we forgot to do. Over the weekend Sara asked on impulse whether I ‘d like to give Cafe Munir’s Sunday tasting menu another try, and I readily agreed. We didn’t have a reservation — you really need one because the place has a devoted following — and we were lucky enough to grab the last available table. The food is Lebanese, and they have a selection of Lebanese wines, as well as Washington state and California offerings. They also have a tasting of single malt from a Washington distiller — three different varieties, one ounce each.

The venue is modest, and there’s not much to absorb sound — so if you’re near a large party it gets noisy. The service is quite good, and the ambience is that of a local Lebanese cafe. The food is just wonderful. They have a full menu, but on Sunday nights it’s a fixed price three course meal. Ours started off with half a dozen appetizers plus a plate of Lebanese bread, followed by a seasoned half chicken enclosed in a crispy thin pastry, then strong, sweet Lebanese coffee with two desserts: traditional baklava and a small cup of white egg custard. If you’re not familiar with the food, the tasting menu gives a chance to try a lot of things so you’ll know what you want to order when you come for a regular evening meal.

This time, when we said we’d be back, we really mean it — and sooner than a few years. That red dish you see is beets, paper-thin carpaccio style, in oil and a tangy vinegar. There is yogurt with cucumber, parsley salad, whole bean hummus, a bulgar salad, and a few other things. By the time the super tasty chicken came, we were almost full — Sara brought a good bit of it home for her lunch. Don’t pass on the after-dinner coffee with cardamom. It’s much like Turkish coffee — you get a few sips of thick, strong, sweet brew, and it’s just the right touch to end a wonderful meal.

Seattle has a great restaurant scene — and it’s doubly great to have my daughter here to say, “Hey Mom, would you like to get some dinner on Sunday night?”

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