Philacatessen | Suraya, Middle Eastern Mecca in Fishtown

Selection of Middle Eastern appetizers. | Thinkstock

Suraya is the new market/café/restaurant/bar at 1528 Frankford Ave. in uber-trendy Fishtown.

The restaurant, a creation of Nathalie Richan and Rolan Kassis, the siblings behind Café La Maude, and Greg Root and Nick Kennedy, owners of ROOT Restaurant and Wine Bar, is an all-day dining venue that features the cuisine of Lebanon and the surrounding Levantine region.

Suraya is named for the beloved grandmother of Richan and Kassis, who raised the siblings in Beirut. Kassis explained, “This space is in honor of our grandmother’s strength and bravery that kept our family together in Lebanon. We hope that her genuine love for food and family is shown throughout all the details.”

The market menu offers an array of pastries — the kouign amann was a standout with a sugar-crisped, flaky exterior encasing layer upon layer of buttery pastry goodness. Other selections include coffee cakes, flan patissiers, langues de chat, rose and pistachio crullers, and chocolate-almond financiers. Stumptown coffees are a worthy accompaniment to these treats. A selection of teas is also available.

Co-owner Greg Root described the menu: “Our food is Lebanese, but we gain inspiration from ingredients and recipes that from the countries in the Levantine region — Israel, Syria, Jordan. We will be offering a full dinner and opening the garden any day now, and we have two huge charcoal grills, which will be the star of the show; whole fish, whole chickens and meats will feature on the dinner menu.”

My visit occurred at mid-day, so I sampled the lunch offerings. The hummus was fantastic, smooth, flavorful and offered with a variety of toppings — traditional, crisp chickpeas, mushrooms or roasted lamb. The dome-shaped pita that accompanied it was delicious and airy.

Baba ganoush brought a creamy smooth smokiness, and the crunch and color of the pomegranate seed garnish was the ideal foil.

Our shish taouk wrap, stuffed with juicy, well-seasoned chicken, pickled vegetables, French fries (!) and toum delivered a tasty burst of varied flavors and textures.

Suraya is also known for its flatbreads, offered with an array of toppings: za’atar, labne, cheese, tomato, beef and chocolate.

Traditional soft drinks include jallab (date, molasses, pine nut and rosewater) clementine ginger soda, rosewater lemonade and orange blossom iced tea. The cocktail, wine and beer list offered a tempting selection of quaffs — something to look forward to on my next visit.

If you go:

1528 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia PA 19125


Open Tuesdays through Sundays 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (kitchen open 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.)

Note: Hours will be extended shortly to include dinner service; check the website for updated details.


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