Spice up your dining life at Salt Lake City’s premier Lebanese and Moroccan Restaurant
Looking for a dynamic dining experience? Come to the Casbah at the Cedars of Lebanon Restaurant. Owned by Raffi and Marlene Daghlian, this 31-year-old landmarkin downtown Salt Lake City features classic, authentic dishes created by Marlene that are reflective of her native Lebanon, and Moroccan specialties by a Casablancan chef.
Everything is prepared fresh and chopped by hand. “It takes longer to prepare, but we insist on using the traditional methods to make classic dishes,” says Marlene. “Nothing is frozen, and we try to use organic ingredients whenever possible.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Lebanese and Moroccan cooking, a good place to start is with the Mezza, an array of appetizer plates to share. Hummus, a smooth puree of chickpeas mixed with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and the Tabboule, a mixture of chopped parsley, tomatoes, green onion and bulgar wheat, mint, olive oil and lemon juice are more widely known, as are the Sarma or stuffed grape leaves, and Falafel—small fried croquettes of ground chickpeas and fava beans blended with spices served with lettuce, tomatoes and parsley.
New Mezza menu offerings include: Fatayar, a baked flatbread triangle filled with a delicious blend of spinach, pine nuts, onions, olive oil and lemon juice; Mohammara, a traditional dip made with walnuts, pomegranate, molasses, bell peppers and spices; and Maanek, or small Lebanese sausages sautéed with lemon juice and served with cilantro tomato sauce. While the name “Itch” may fill timid diners with some trepidation, this special Armenian dip made from bulgar wheat, tomatoes, lemon juice, and spices is a favorite among diners.
Don’t fill up on the appetizers because there are plenty of tasty main courses. Moroccan entrees include chicken and lamb tagines, the curry marinated stews served over rice or couscous, or a more exotic shrimp tagine cooked in a special sauce with green pepper, mushroom, and vegetables. One of the most famous dishes on the Moroccan menu is the Pastilla, a filo pastry stuffed with your choice of ground chicken or lamb, onions and spices that is then baked to perfection and sprinkled with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
Some of the more popular Lebanese entrées are the Shish Kebabs (either beef, chicken or the Armenian ground beef Kafta), the Beef or Chicken Chawarma, meat roasted and served with garlic or tahini sauce, and Kibbeh, a fried mixture of ground beef, onions, parsley and pine nuts. Vegetarians need not despair. Cedars offers a lovely Moussaka plate that combines eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, carrot, onions and parsley served over basmati rice. Another popular vegetarian option is Moujadra, consisting of lentils, rice, caramelized onions, and vegetables served with rice. The Yalla Vegan Platter includes Spinach Fatayar, falafel, hommus, tabouleh and pita bread.
The restaurant is open every day and also offers a buffet lunch on weekdays that includes a generous variety of dishes. In addition to the main dining room, guests can choose a more exotic setting in the Casbah and lounge on cushions around low tables surrounded by colorful murals or, partake in the tradition of the Hookah, a beautifully adorned pipe filled with flavored herbs of apple, strawberry and grape, and also enjoy belly dancers on Friday and Saturday nights. Cedars of Lebanon also has over 20 years of experience catering for events of all sizes, from intimate gatherings to large corporate events.