Habibi Bar and Hookah Lounge in Daytona, FL

I do love some good Lebanese food when I can get my hands on it, and that doesn’t happen nearly often enough, in my opinion. So when we passed by the Habibi restaurant on Intl. Speedway Blvd. in Daytona, that presented itself as a definite maybe in my book. As the skies darkened and a thunderstorm loomed, our search for a restaurant downtown was cut short so we headed to Habibi’s. (Yay!)

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Our meal started off with a bang. We ordered the “Choose Three” appetizer plate where you can pick any three appetizers from the menu. Vegetarian grape leaves, baba ganoush and kibbeh were our choices. Oh my, a trip to Habibi’s is worth it just for the grape leaves alone! Rolled tightly, they are stuffed with a tasty mixture of spiced rice. The hint of cinnamon and the fact that they are served warmed really threw them over the edge for me. Since I am almost exclusively used to eating the commercial grape leaves, these were pretty exceptional to me. Alongside, we had the baba ganoush. Or did we? After my first bite, I quickly realized that it was actually hummus. Grr. I suppose the kibbeh made up for that. Soft cracked wheat and beef was stuffed with even more ground beef. Sounds a bit strange, but with the right mixture of spices, it’s a perfect start to a meal. The inside was almost creamy with the ground beef and the juices mingling and the spices didn’t overpower the mixture. I feel like we could have had a bit more for what we paid though…almost 14 dollars seemed like quite a lot. (And the waiter never asked if we wanted more pita bread!)

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While the appetizer plate was the definite highlight, the main meals were a bit of a letdown. There didn’t seem to be much of a choice other than grilled meats with rice. My choice was the lamb kabobs. They were pretty good, but the lamb was definitely¬†cooked a bit more than I had asked for. The portion was generous and the meat was my preferred part of the main dish. The rice was good, but nothing special and the greek salad (topped with Italian dressing?!!?!) seemed like an afterthought.

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We sat outside on the nice patio they have, but there is a ton of room inside-if you like that lingering odor of hookah. The prices did seem fair because the portions were quite large, especially for the kabob dinner platters. The service was good, albeit a tad bit slow.

All in all, I would go back, but only for the delicious appetizers!!!

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