Naranj Restaurant is the kind of restaurant you wish your town had, it’s probably some of the best Arabic food I’ve had in the world and is part of a new movement in Syria at revitalizing tourism to the country and to the Old City. This restaurant should be part of why you come to Syria.
It is by far the best restaurant in Syria, if not the best Arabic restaurant I’ve ever eaten in the world.
lamb and grape leaves
Being only a few years old the restaurant is ultra-modern and very upscale (though by Western standards still very very inexpensive, a hummus and chicken kebab is less than $5 US about) and located right in the heart of the Old City of Damascus off of Straight Street near the remains of an old ancient Roman arch and an old minaret from a mosque. The street at the time I visited was being reconstructed and so was in a state of disrepair and full of dust and rocks, but walking into Naranj was like walking into a different world.
The place is dazzlingly clean and lights up a whole half a block with its large windows. You enter through a massive wooden door off of a sidewalk with newly planted naranj trees and enter into a giant stone hall with a large fountain and retractable roof. Unlike most every other restaurant in Damascus the smoke from the shishas was unnoticeable. If you like you can also sit outside on their rooftop which overlooks a nearby church and Straight Street.
The food is fantastic. Their homemade hummus is probably the best hummus I’ve ever eaten and their presentation makes it look like a world class dish. The taste is some of the most subtle and yet quality hummus you’ll ever experience.
In addition to a strong showing of entrée sized dishes Naranj really shines in their mezze, as they should. Order a bunch of small dishes (they have one combo order to feed 5 people or so that is a good sampler of their strengths). These small dishes and many items on their menu come from regional specialties found in all corners of Syria and are a foodie’s dream when it comes to being able to sample the best of Syrian cuisine.
Stand out side dishes included their mashed potato and garlic, eggplant dip, hummus, feta salad, and just about everything I tried. The sides were about $1 each.
Fresh bread of various shapes and sizes continually passed through the restaurant on a platter held by one of the waiters to ensure you were constantly dipping your hummus with a warm and fresh piece of handmade bread.
Their chicken kebab plate was one of the best I’ve had, the chicken heavily spiced but not overpowering, spices so fresh you can taste the old souk down the street that they likely came from. The kebab plate has a number of chicken pieces covered by a spicy piece of pita bread and a small side of rice.
Another stand out dish, and one of the priciest (maybe around $5 or so) was the grape leaves and lamb. The grape leaves were mildly spiced with vinegar, warm, and the lamb was cooked to perfection and lightly spiced with Arabic spices like cumin and the like.
Beer is served and I saw people who brought their own champagne having it uncorked at their dinner party.
Lunch and late night hours. Noonish to 2amish.To get there get to Bab Sharqi gate of the old city and walk down Straight Street for about 5-10 minutes until you reach the old Roman arch and mosque minaret – the restaurant is on the right hand side at that intersection.
For a high end dinner with drinks expect to spend about $20 per person, although for a kebab plate and hummus it’s only about $4-5 and feeds two just fine.
Their free (in Damascus several if not most restaurants serve you a free dessert tray of fruits and pastries) dessert tray is humongous and contains every kind of Arabic pastry dessert as well as several fresh and locally grown fruits.
I couldn’t find a website, if someone knows post below or email me.
for inquiries and comments (non-commercial only please):
go.mideast @ yahoo.com
Copyright ©2003-2010 gomideast.com unless otherwise credited