A Middle Eastern Food Oasis

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WHY WE LOVE IT: Past Bayshore Drive on the East Trail is an unexpected oasis of Middle Eastern food—hummus so good one might swim across the Mediterranean for it, copious piles of tender spice-rubbed beef shaved into dainty squares, and pita so puffed it could give the Pillsbury Doughboy a run for his money. Did we also mention chef Rachid Eido is often there to welcome guests, circulating the serene dining room, which feels like a personification of 21st-century Beirut, with white acrylic chairs, woven copper accents and scores of succulents?

IDEAL MEAL: Absolutely do not skip that creamy chickpea swirl sent from heaven—and it’s best enjoyed through a sampler with several of chef Eido’s renditions (our favorite is the garlic hummus). For that matter, don’t skip the other meze either. Bursting with flavor, there are salads of roasted eggplant, crisped falafel, stuffed grape leaves perked up by mint and lemon, and, of course, tabbouleh and baba ghanoush.

For heartier appetites, Eido dishes up composed entrées the likes of which go toe-to-toe with those you’d find from other top kitchens in town. Our favorites include an irresistible fatteh lamb, a velvety concoction with tender slices of meat and crunchy pita chips enveloped in yogurt with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.

VIBE: It’s casual enough that you feel comfortable dropping in when the mood strikes, but the curated contemporary ambiance carries a sophisticated air so that office clothes are never out of place. In fact, take advantage of the final stretch of season to stop by during their weekday “express lunch” that features well-priced salads, shawarma sandwiches and combos, which should come to a close by May.

Kareem’s Lebanese Kitchen, 4270 Tamiami Trail E., Naples, 315-4167, kareemskitchen.com

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