If you are looking for authentic, home styled Syrian food, come to the Syriana Cafe & Gallery in Ellicott City’s Historic District. With recipes passed down in families from the Syrian heartland, Syriana Cafe serves up mouthwatering dishes packed with flavor. And yes, they cater to vegetarian appetites as well.
I sampled (or rather stuffed my face unabashedly) with the following vegetarian dishes:
• Tabbouleh: A salad consisting of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, onions, mint leaves, bulgur, and dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
• Foule-bel-zet: Another salad, this one is made of cooked fava beans garnished with chopped tomatoes, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.
• Hummus: This humble Levantine dip has clearly become one of the world’s favorite food obsessions. Fresh hummus is made by blending cooked chickpeas with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.
• Baba Ghanouj: Cooked eggplant is mashed and mixed with tahini, olive oil and spices.
• Falafel: Just when I was craving them, Syriana Cafe presents me with perfectly made falafels. These deep-fried doughnut balls are made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Crisp on the outside, moist on the inside.
• Labneh: Similar to soft cheese, labneh is made by straining the liquid out of yogurt.
• Pitta Bread: Also known as Arabic bread, Pitta (or Pita) bread has become synonymous with hummus and other dip platters.
• Kenafa: This traditional dessert consists of soaking cheese pastries in sweet, sugar-based syrups.
Syriana Cafe & Gallery also participates in community empowerment by supporting local artisans based in Damascus, Syria. There are a variety of antique crafts, hand looms, silk textiles and woodwork on display here including colorful shawls, ethnic rugs, scented soaps, mosaic serving trays, hand carved chess boards, ornate mother-of-pearl mirrors, embellished hookahs, traditional frankincense burners, and native coffee bean grinders. Every purchase you make at Syriana Cafe & Gallery helps sustain local artisans and ancestral handicrafts in Syria.
For the convenience of anyone looking to grab a bite at Syriana Cafe, you can find their menu listings below. Syriana Cafe & Gallery is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.