14 March 2012


I came here last Saturday night with some friends. Lebanese native Roland Semaan opened Balade a few years ago and, thanks partly to its cozy atmosphere, partly to its delicious, reasonably-priced eastern mediterranean menu, and partly to its location, its been popular ever since.

The space is warm and comfortable, with pillow-laden benches, softly lit lanterns, and lots of reds and browns. It can get a little noisy but I had no trouble talking to my friends over dinner - impressive, considering we were eating at 9 on a Saturday night. When we arrived, we were told that it'd be 5-10 minutes or so for a table. Forty minutes later we were seated. But the owner was incredibly apologetic (apparently they had called our name, but some other group had taken the table) and we wound up with a free round of drinks, so I'm not complaining.

Even better, the food was great and entirely reasonably priced. We ordered the vegetarian mazmeez - a combination of babaganouj, tabouleh, falafel, shankleesh (a salty, homemade cheese blended with zaatar) and warak einab (grape leaves stuffed with chickpeas and tomatoes) - all of which were simply prepared, fresh and delicious. I also had the skinny shawarma salad - a mixture of greens, onions, tomatoes, olives and cucumbers topped with warm and juicy chicken shawarma. Yum. They also make their own pita bread (delicious), and turn it into appealing-looking pizzas ('pitzas') and wraps ('sandweechat') stuffed with marinated meats and homemade spreads.

Bottom line: a fun, casual place to come for a few drinks and some delicious mediterranean.

208 1st Ave (b/w 12th and 13th)

  skinny shawarma salad
  vegetarian mazmeez
  lentil soup

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