Kan Zaman's River North digs are an improvement on its former Andersonville space, whose dark and uninspired rows of seating overwhelmed the few Arabic-style booths along the front windows. Here, it's all sunshine and thoughts of home...assuming your home is a Lebanese one. Beaded chandeliers, large windows that open in warm weather, decorative items and a row of sunken booths welcome you in, and literally invite you to kick your shoes off and enjoy.
Still, the relaxation is met with serious food, which runs from the expected appetizers like falafel, dolma and kibbeh to less-tried starters like zaalook (diced eggplant sauteed with green pepper, mushroom, onion, garlic and tomato) and foul modammas (pureed fava bean dip).
Lamb, beef, seafood, poultry and vegetarian entrees range from charbroiled quail to shawarma to mdardara (steamed mixed lentil and rice topped with roasted onion); at $12-$17, you'll get your money's worth with a choice of soup or salad and plenty of rice or bulgar wheat. Lunch specials make for a wise midday stop: A hearty lunch of lentil soup and a chicken shawarma pita sandwich costs less than seven big ones.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Schwartz