Where do you go to get the best damn Lebanese food in all ofPortland? Nicolas, on Southeast Grand is where. Since 1986, thisunassuming little restaurant has been serving its customerstraditional, delicious and healthy meals for affordable prices.
With a menu that emanates authenticity and an environment thatis quaint and bright, Nicolas is a great destination for eitherlunch or dinner. I visited Nicolas on a Sunday afternoon, and itwas packed. The aromas engulfing the small room hinted of garlic,onion and Middle Eastern spices.
I scanned tables of happy patrons noticing the differentplatters, breads and specialty drinks, such as the strawberryyogurt drink and the fresh peach concoction. I ordered thestrawberry drink and was very satisfied by its fresh blendedstrawberries, homemade yogurt and hint of rose water. It provided avery nice compliment to my Mezza platter.
Some of the most fulfilling (and relatively inexpensive)combinations at Nicolas can be found under the Mezza category. ThisLebanese tradition consists of many small appetizer plates.Ordinarily, this platter would be eaten before an entree, althoughI find this combination to be a meal in itself. With your choice ofmeat, vegetarian, vegan or falafel, there is something foreveryone.
In fact, one of the best things about Nicolas is their flexiblecombination of dishes that offer vegans, vegetarians and carnivoresalike many options, making Nicolas a mecca for alternativedieters.
On this outing, I chose the meat platter because it comes withthe really fantastic Lebanese sausage kafta (like a meat skewer).Also, this dish is accompanied by hummus, some of the best falafelyou can find, tabouleh and flat bread. The platters differaccording to their titles: the vegan comes with mjadra (cookedlentils with rice) and a garbanzo plate, the vegetarian comes withspinach pie and the falafel delight comes with a Lebanese salad. Itis safe to say that, no matter what your dietary orientation, youwill not be disappointed with your choice.
On the appetizer menu, Nicolas offers a number of smaller disheslike Tahziki, a vegetarian offering consisting of rich sour creamblended with homemade yogurt, fresh garlic lemon juice andcucumbers. You can also order their splendid grape leaves stuffedwith rice and seasoned beef.
Nicolas has a number of sandwiches as well, ranging from thetraditional gyro with roasted tender seasoned lamb slices to theoutstanding Shawarma, with fresh cuts of sirloin beef marinatedover night with garlic, olive oil, ten different Middle Easternspices with herbs and red wine rolled with saut�ed onions,lettuce, tomatoes and tahini sauce.
Nicolas has an array of specialty dishes, too, which range froma savory lamb platter to the vegan deep fried eggplant or zucchini.No matter what you choose, I am confident you won’t bedisappointed. And with all dishes priced under ten dollars, youwon’t break the bank either. So go ahead and put Nicolas in yourmouth! Oh, and they’re open seven days a week.