Friday, August 12, 2022 Aug 12, 2022
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Deep Ellum

Zåtar Lebanese Tapas & Bar Offers a Mosaic of Flavors

The Deep Ellum restaurant is still working out kinks, but the sprawling menu is worth a visit.
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Modern and swanky, with a patio for hookah, Zåtar introduces modern Lebanese cuisine to Deep Ellum the way Nora brought the subtleties of Afghan cooking to Lowest Greenville. With a flair for hospitality, Chaouki Khoury and Marc Mansour, Zåtar’s owners, invite you into the often-communal food culture of their homeland with a mosaic of tart, complex flavors. Pita comes straight from the oven, a fluffy puff that encourages dipping into a swirl of hummus; or maybe muhammara, bright with roasted red pepper; or the black gold that is za’atar spice, a slurry of dried thyme, sumac, cumin, and sesame seeds in olive oil. On a sprawling menu, I love the authenticity of dishes such as a warmly spiced lamb pilaf with raisins, slivered almonds, and pine nuts, the shank meat gently gamy. Lentil croquettes wanted more caramelized onion, but their salvation was the lemony yogurt sauce, potent with fresh garlic. In kibbet karaz, flavorful ground beef is shaped into beggars’ purses into which they tuck sour cherries and walnuts. You can also find quinoa with mushy grilled shrimp and very ordinary vinaigrette. Over several visits, they were still working out kinks. But the food has charisma: the flavors, collectively, are tantalizing and fresh, and pair wonderfully with Lebanese wine or a cocktail made with licorice-y Arak as your table fills with small plates.

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