Mon-Fri, noon-11pm; Sat-Sun, 5pm-11pm
1, 2, 3 at 14th St.; F, M at 14th St.
American Express, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Bleecker St. to 20th St., Third Ave. to Washington St.
Whether grilled on a kebab, baked in a meat pie, or mixed with pine nuts and bulghur wheat as kibbeh, lamb is the cornerstone of the cuisine at Salam Café, where it excels in all its iterations. The menu is primarily Syrian and Lebanese, a sampling of which can be ordered as Maza, a complete meal of appetizers: standards like tabbouleh and falafel along with less traveled fare like white Syrian cheese and sfeeha, tasty pita pizza topped with cheese, vegetables, or ground lamb. Two dishes are outstanding: the Ouzi, a phyllo pie filled with rice, raisins, and a choice of lamb, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables, and baked until crispy and bulging. The second is the Coriander, a quick stew with tomato, cream, and finely chopped fresh coriander, made with meat, fish, or nearly a dozen different vegetables. The kebabs, except for shrimp, are smoky and delicious. The few Moroccan dishes justify the mosaic-tiled tabletops, colorful lamps, beaded votive holders, and embroidered tapestries that make the interior half Fez villa, half tricked out dorm room. And that's probably what attracts the NYU contingent. They've joined the caravan of West Villagers who for more than 30 years have followed the cooking of husband and wife chef-owners Joan and Bassam Omary—she works the grill while he tends the range.Recommended Dishes
Sfeeha, $6; vegetable coriander, $15; chicken ouzi, $16; maza, $19