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Yara Lebanese Cuisine
Mississippi goes Middle Eastern

Portland

Despite George HW Bush dubbing Portland "Little Beirut" because of all the protesters (who back then got rowdy in the streets instead of turning the park outside City Hall into a KOA campsite), there're noticeably few restaurants shelling out Middle Eastern eats -- a hole that Mississippi's Yara seeks to fill with pita, shawarma, and other traditional delicacies.


The inside's totally sun-bathed (a garage door turns the sidewalk into a patio come summer), and is laden with decorative copper coffee pots, while the upstairs will go hyper-traditional with a private dining area where you sit on the floor and eat with your hands. So basically college, but like, cultural.


"Mezza" include fatayer bread bites stuffed w/ ground beef, baked feta, stuffed grape leaves, and "foul mudammas", which're sauteed fava beans that could more accurately be called "extremely delicious mudammas".


Lamb comes in shank form (like the one all the way up top), stuffed into gyros, and skewered on kabobs. Another move: this chicken shawarma, which comes in sandwiches, atop rice, or as a platter w/ beef & lamb that's meant to be shared.


There's ultra-sweet baklava for dessert, in addition to Turkish coffee served in a tiny copper pot with a mug the size of a Dixie Cup, which nonetheless is so strong and caffeine-heavy it'll have you feeling energized enough to change the world... before collapsing in a heap outside City Hall.

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1. Yara Lebanese Cuisine 3928 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227

Back in the early '90s, the staff of President George H.W. Bush nicknamed Portland "Little Beirut" in reaction to violent protests surrounding the prez's visit. In other news, Oregon has been blue since '88. Anyway, the name stuck but the restaurants of PDX didn't really follow the lead and open a ton of Middle Eastern joints. Thankfully, Yara has stepped in to fill that void, serving up kababs, falafel, shawarma, and other traditional dishes on Mississippi Ave.

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