Co-owner Marlene Daghlian gets excited in Sally Field-fashion, saying, “They like me, they really like me,” talking about her returning clientele. She really likes them, too, offering a nurturing, almost motherly, dining experience made apparent during the more down-tempo lunches. “It’s good to know the customers,” says Daghlian, making her rounds, chatting with diners, turning new customers into regulars. She takes breaks to cook and checks in with the friendly waitstaff. “They say I’m like their mom, too.”
On the buffet, to start, make your own salad or choose from several Daghlian-made cold, tangy concoctions like potato or cabbage salad. Herbs—like fresh mint from Daghlian’s garden—flavor dishes, as do Lebanese culinary favorites like cumin, garlic, allspice and cinnamon, which waft through the air like a sweet Arabic song. Daily hot staples with Middle Eastern flair are available, like a mild Moroccan chicken curry and the sumptuous Lebanese kafta kebab—lean ground beef mixed with parsley and onion, served with potatoes. For vegetarians and vegans, there’s moussaka—a savory, tomato-based vegetable dish, featuring eggplant—and moujadra—lentils and rice slightly sweetened by caramelized onions. Several dishes rotate daily, depending on availability and Daghlian’s disposition.
After the healthy feast, a strong cup of sweet, Middle Eastern coffee hits the spot—some customers can’t leave without one. Asking and suggesting at the same time, Daghlian says, “Have a coffee with me? I know you’ll like it.”
CEDARS OF LEBANON
152 E. 200 South