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24 East 21st Street
Almayass 1 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron

There are several franchises of this well-regarded Lebanese/Armenian restaurant in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, but it is only in Manhattan and at their flagship restaurant in Beirut that the Alexandrian family runs the business themselves. The menu is almost the same worldwide, being tweaked a bit based on the availability of products in the different countries, but it is Mrs. Alexandrian, who lends her elegant designer’s touch to every restaurant, allowing them each to stand alone as a work of art. Several members of the Manhattan Sideways team sat in the beautiful lounge area on comfortable couches one afternoon and had a fascinating experience at Almayass. We learned about the differences in Mediterranean cooking – from one country to the next. As best described by a family member, “our dishes are similar to that of Israel and Turkey but with an Armenian touch. This is what makes us special. No one else serves this kind of food in Manhattan.” The entire menu is based on family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. We sampled a number of spectacular dishes, savoring every bite along the way. Mantee Traditional – shaped like a mini ravioli, but crisp and stuffed with ground meat and topped with a yogurt sauce and sumac was our first dish, and then came Basterma Almayass, the restaurant’s specialty. As someone described, “It has a layered taste — there is a lot going on with a baguette on the bottom, Armenian pastrami in the middle and a quail egg placed on top,” but they agreed it all melded well together. The Sweet and Sour Kebab consisting of ground beef topped with a superb sauce of wild cherries that only grow in a small region of the Middle East was a favorite of many. For me, it was the Armenian Subereg that was the best. The multi-layered light and fluffy dough interspersed with cheese was elegant and delicious. With a blend of unique spices and their love of Lebanese food, the Alexandrian family hopes to continue to enchant New Yorkers with their restaurant, food and family members.

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Almayass 1 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
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Almayass 3 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
Almayass 4 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
Almayass 5 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
Almayass 6 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
Almayass 7 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
Almayass 8 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
Almayass 9 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
Almayass 10 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron
Almayass 11 Armenian Lebanese Vegetarian Flatiron

More places on 21st Street

Lost Gem
Merakia 1 Mediterranean Greek undefined


Merakia occupies the space that housed Kat & Theo from 2015-2017 - and while the restaurant maintains the same ownership as before, it also has a different mission. The modern Greek steakhouse prides itself on its meats and classic seafood items, while maintaining a classy, hip atmosphere in its cavernous space on 21st Street. “We built a new team… and a new vision, ” managing partner James Paloumbis shared with the Manhattan Sideways team when he spoke of the switch from Kat & Theo. He then went on to highlight Merakia’s differences from other Greek restaurants. “It’s not white and blue like every other place in New York City. Our menu is not the copy paste of any other place. ” The menu is heavy on steaks and seafood, boasting their signature lamb on the spit ("the only restaurant in the city to do so") while, surprisingly, offering some robust meat-free options as well. “Everything is farm to table, we use fresh ingredients, [and] we make everything from scratch on a daily basis. ” James told us that part of his mission is to bring back the adventure of going out to eat, a phenomenon he has noticed declining over the years. “People don’t like to go out anymore just to eat. You can eat at home, you can eat down the street, you can order your meal online. But to get an experience of nice service, some nice flavors, nice music, nice drinks - it’s worth your while to go out again. ” Husband and wife team behind Kat & Theo - Renee and Andreas Typaldos - seem to have orchestrated a smooth transition from their previous restaurant. As their past executive chef, Paras Shah, believed, "there should be a movie written about the couple's romantic backstory and that he “couldn’t have worked for better folks. ” Andy is originally from Greece, and the restaurant was named after his parents, Katerina and Theodosios. Andy came to New York on a scholarship from Columbia and met Renee, who is from the Bronx. He took her out on a first date “with holes in his shoes and with no winter jacket, ” according to Renee. She added, “The romantic, poetic way people get together. ” Today, they are paying homage to Andy's Greek heritage and according to James, “People have to trust their stomachs and their palates with a restaurant, so that’s what we’re trying to do here. Trust us - our food is fresh, our food is made with care, and we love what we do. ”