Portland has many quality Lebanese restaurants, but one longtime favorite is Al Amir (233 SW Stark St., 503/274-0010, 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 4:30–9 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 4:30–midnight Fri., 4:30 p.m.–midnight Sat., 4:30–9 p.m. Sun., $12–17), located downtown in the dark-paneled Gothic elegance of a home once belonging to Portland’s Catholic archbishop (circa 1879). The menu emphasizes Lebanese specialties, and there’s a belly dancer on Friday and Saturday evenings.
If you’re looking for that perfect family-owned Lebanese restaurant where you’ll find delicious home-style cooking, this is it: Karam Lebanese Cuisine (316 SW Stark St., 503/223-0830, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sat., $8–19) offers a breadth of Lebanese dishes rarely seen in the U.S.—kibee, molokhie, and stews of eggplant, kid, and okra, plus a selection of traditional fish and seafood dishes. Still, it’s the basics that count, and the excellent mezza platters, served with house-made pita bread, are worth the journey.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel