Ilili is a contemporary Lebanese restaurant near the Flatiron district that captures your imagination when you walk in off of 5th Avenue. Long and narrow, the warm colors, beautiful wood and high ceilings give a light and airy feel. Upon entering the space you see a comfortable lounge and a bar. A large wall of wood and glass separates these social spaces from the main dining room and provides a cozy feel.
We opted to forgo ordering a main dish and instead ordered several small plates so we could sample as much as possible. Our waiter, Danny, was knowledgeable and very helpful making excellent suggestions on what to try. All our dishes ranged from $9.00 to $19.00.Two of our more filling plates were Kibbe Naya $15 (raw lamb kibbe, served with chopped red onions, radish and mint) and Grilled Octopus $19. Both were very good, but surprisingly I enjoyed the Kibbe Naya more than the octopus which seemed mundane by comparison. I gobbled up the Kibbe Naya with the small warm pita bread served and a garlic spread that was fragrant and creamy.
Mouhamara $10 (top left) originates from neighboring Aleppo Syria was rather bland, but the Hommus with lamb and olive oil $11 was both hearty and flavorful and something I would definitely order again.
We also tried a few other plates but sadly my camera (or perhaps my ability to manipulate my camera) let me down and I’m not satisfied with the images. I would like to note if you love veggies two options we ordered that were absolutely delicious included Fattoush $12 which is a salad with fried crisps of pita bread, mixed greens, mint and pine nuts. Also worth noting (and possibly my favorite dish) was the Dandelion salad $9, which is similar to steamed spinach.
If my review has tempted you, I should let you know that this place is very popular. Perhaps that is why the restaurant has a 4-star review with nearly 800 reviews on Yelp so make reservations in advance.
Ilili NYC – 236 5th Avenue — (212) 683-2929