Whatever you order, rest assured that your food comes from the heart. Before opening, Balade's owner flew in his mother and grandmother straight from Lebanon to help put together the menu with their family recipes.Being the first to do something in New York is a challenge. In a city of 8-million-plus and a history as rich as ours, it seems like everything's been done already. So it was a pretty cool day when we walked into Balade and learned that this beautiful little spot in the East Village was the first in Manhattan to offer Manakeesh (Lebanese-style pizza). These thin crusted, tasty delights come with various exotic toppings like traditional Lebanese white cheese, ground beef seasoned with a secret recipe, or Zaatar, a spice mixture of dried wild thyme, sesame seeds and sumac. Other treats include platters like the House of Lamb Kabab with char-grilled tenderloin lamb served with rice and grilled vegetables, or the Hummus Shawarma which features homemade hummus topped with their signature beef shawarma, tomatoes, scallions and parsley.
Whatever you order, rest assured that your food comes from the heart. All the dishes on the menu are traditional recipes that the owner grew up eating himself. The beautifully designed interior looks like it could be straight from one of the vintage photos of pre-war Lebanon that cover the wall. To say you've been transported to a different era is somewhat of a simplification, so you'll just have to experience it yourself.
Jebneh Manakeesh, $11
Hummus Shawarma, $18
Daily, 11:30a.m. to 11p.m.