Is Lebanese food starting to be a "thing"? Yesterday we saw Lebanese Grill in Plano, and now we have Zåtar Lebanese Tapas & Bar, set to open in Deep Ellum in summer 2016.
The restaurant will open at 2827 Commerce St., at the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard. The menu will include tapas, specialty dishes, and Lebanese desserts such as the traditional knafeh.
The restaurant goes into what has long been a vacant building, with a 5,000-square-foot interior that will be modern yet unassuming; 210 seats in the dining room; plus a lounge area, full bar, and a covered patio with bar access for dining and smoking hookah. In addition to specialty drinks and cocktails, there will be Lebanese and Deep Ellum beers and wines.
Co-owner and manager Marc Mansour says that eating in Lebanon is tied to gatherings.
"Lebanese people never eat alone, and they love to share food with their family and friends, all while listening to great music and sipping on exquisite cocktails," he says.
He says that he recognized a demand for an elevated Lebanese dining experience. With Zåtar, the plan was to create refined food with an extensive shareable tapas menu and unique craft cocktails with Lebanese twists.
"Dallas has great Mediterranean food but we want to do a true Lebanese restaurant," he says. "Our goal is to re-create our family and friends' gatherings back home, which went on to the wee hours of the morning."
Mansour immigrated to the United States in 2001 from Lebanon, where he held a degree in French and Lebanese cuisine from the famed École Hôtelière in Beirut. He's had a long career in hotel and restaurant management, including serving as director of catering for the W Dallas-Victory. His high-end experience promises an attention to detail and quality.
He'll oversee the day-to-day operations of the establishment in collaboration with chef Moe Khazem, who had his first foray into the restaurant business five years ago with Qariah Lebanese restaurant on Lower Greenville, which is now closed. The staff also includes a specialized pastry chef, brought in from Lebanon.
"We decided to close Qariah's location on Greenville Avenue in December 2015 in favor of a partnership with Marc and a move to the revamped and ever-exciting Deep Ellum," Khazem says.
The menu is mostly complete, with meat skewers and vegetarian treats alike, such as a hummus trio using unexpected ingredients such as beet, edamame, and white bean.
Mansour says this is a project that has been in the works for a long time. "We've been talking about it, and we decided it's just time to do it," he says.