Leila’s – a destination for authentic Middle Eastern food

Located two blocks south of Clematis Street, Leila’s Restaurant has established itself as a destination restaurant featuring Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine.

Chef and owner, Alex Awad, who was born in Damascus, Syria, opened Leila’s eight years ago to create truly authentic Middle Eastern dishes using family recipes dating back generations. Rest assured, Awad’s mission has been accomplished and is still going strong. His homemade recipes are consistently fresh and delicious, and he is always on-hand overseeing the kitchen while making sure all his guests are being well taken care of.

Located at the corner of Datura Street and South Dixie Highway, Leila’s has a lovely intimate dining room with lots of windows offering wrap-around street views. There is a small full-liquor bar that seats three to four people and a number of cozy booths. Outside is a tented patio with additional tables and couches for a more relaxed seating option in a lush backyard setting.

For starters, Leila’s menu features typical favorites such as hummus, baba ghanouj, tabouleh salad and falafel, all of which are always top-notch. The appetizers selection is large, and I highly recommend trying something different, like the foul salata (there is nothing foul about this plate). It consists of fava beans simmered in garlic, lemon and olive oil tossed with parsley, tomato and spring onion. It’s a Mediterranean-inspired party in your mouth. Some other choices worth mentioning include sambusik, flakey and light pastries filled with minced beef, pine nuts and sweet onion; and the Zahra, small cauliflower flash-fried golden with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice.

All diners are provided with a basket of warm, homemade pita bread and some delicious seasoned green olives drizzled with olive oil.

For your entrée, any of the kebobs (chicken, lamb, fish du jour, vegetable or mixed) will not disappoint. My favorite is the chicken, which is exquisitely seasoned and grilled so that it melts in your mouth. The kebabs portions are plentiful, so you may want to share or be prepared to leave with a doggy bag. All entrees are served with a generous portion of rice or couscous plus grilled vegetables.

Leila’s also features belly dancers on weekends (call for performance times), hookah and traditional Turkish coffee, tea and desserts such as baklava, a filo-layered cake with pistachios.

For the summer, Leila’s is offering two-for-one cocktails from 5 to 7 p.m. and a price-fixed dinner consisting of three courses (appetizer, entrée and dessert) for $29. Located at 120 S. Dixie Hwy. in West Palm Beach, the restaurant is open until 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays for lunch and dinner and until 11 p.m. on Fridays. On Saturdays, it is open for dinner only from 5 to 11 p.m. For more information, call 561-659-7373.


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