Byblos is an elegant Middle Eastern restaurant tucked away on a quite side street just minutes from the heart of downtown Budapest. Syrian natives Osama and Mohamad Kutaini, brothers who previously worked at a nearby five star hotel restaurant, oversee the operations. The extensive menu features cold and hot mezze, salads, grilled meats, desserts, and there's also water pipes for hookah fans on the upstairs level (Byblos does serve alcohol, too).

There was consensus at my table that the standout mezzes were the smoky mutabbal (eggplant dip similar to baba ganoush), the thick labneh (strained yogurt), and the makanek (spicy lamb sausage). Also good are the falafels, and the kibbeh, fried lamb meatballs made with bulgur and spices. Most mezzes are priced €5-6 apiece. I was less impressed by the grilled meats and was also expecting more from the chicken musakhan, a Palestinian sumac-spiced chicken dish. For dessert, the kanafeh and the baklava — sporting vanilla ice cream — are the tastiest choices for a serious sugar-high.

Not everything is a hit here and you can find better grilled meats at Darband, but for an all-around, comfortable Levantine dining experience in Budapest's city center, Byblos is one of the top choices currently.

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