If you're in the mood for a wonderful Lebanese meal, you don't have to spend that much or go that far to get it. Less than $20 and a large appetite are all you need! Hop on the Brown Line to Kedzie to try Semiramis (4639-41 North Kedzie).
When I have trouble selecting from the long list of superb appetizers, I order the Vegetarian Plate to share with friends. Between the freshly made hummus, baba ghannouj, tangy tabbouleh, falafel and dolmas, it's hard to pick a favorite. All meals are served with the house-pickled turnips, marinated olives and soft-as-a-pillow pitas, so there's always more than enough food.
I say don't order less - bring more friends! And then splurge on a savory order of ful, the addictive fries topped with bitter sumac and a side of garlic mousse, and perhaps a few of the deep-fried lamb kibbe.
If you have room after appetizers, Semiramis also has excellent sandwich and entrees. The falafel are delightfully crunchy on the outside, savory and seasoned, and come as an appetizer or as a tahini-slathered sandwich. The chawarma, a choice of either lamb, beef or chicken that's been cooked slowly on a spit, is shaved and then wrapped with vegetables, tahini and hummus. Repeat visits will be required to try the seafood specials - I'm fond of the moist, encrusted salmon served over a bed of lentils.
A tiny teacup of thick, Arabic coffee is generally all I need for dessert. Flavored with cardamom, it puts the perfect punctuation on the meal.
The atmosphere at Semiramis is cheerful, casual and is suitable for large crowds, a laid-back date or solo dining. There's a separate seating area in the front for pick-up orders and delivery business, so you won't be distracted by people coming and going. Semiramis is a BYOB and has no corkage fee. If you forgot the wine, Foremost Liquors (4616 North Kedzie Avenue) is on the same block.
Nearby Dining Attractions
Albany Park is full of wonderful Middle Eastern restaurants! On a return trip, stop by the equally delicious Noon O Kabab (4661 North Kedzie Avenue) for a meal of kababs and dill rice, or pop into Nazareth Sweets (4638 North Kedzie Avenue) for a phenomenal selection of baklava.