Imagine the perfect falafel, fried until it's brown-crisp and glistening on the outside, creamy-smooth and yellow on the inside, and served up still sizzling hot.
That's how you'll get it at Semiramis. The Albany Park BYOB delivers mammoth portions of Lebanese staples with savvy attention to detail. Snack on bowls of lip-puckering pickled beets and olives while you peruse the menu. Salads, like the fattoush, are sliced thin and crispy and sport fresh herbs. If you're looking for the falafel, you can get it inside a traditional wrap for $3.50, or on the overflowing vegetarian sampler, which also features fat grape leaves, hummus, tabbouleh and smoky baba, for just three bucks more. The tender chicken chawarma ($4.50) draws raves. All the dishes will leave you with a full belly, a fat wallet and leftovers that will make your lunch buddies drool.
A stellar choice for double dates or wine-fueled gab sessions, the dining room features cozy tables, ample lighting and modern music turned low. Beautiful wall hangings and pottery state the Middle-Eastern mood without screaming. When you're sipping your sublime Arabic coffee with cardamom and nibbling flaky baklava, you'll be glad you made the northwest trek.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Julia Steinberger