Leyla Fine Lebanese Cuisine is a fantastic spot for a romantic meal, special occasion, or just because. The delicious Lebanese menu offers both familiar and unique dishes for vegans, vegetarian, and omnivores.
Charleston is well-known for its culinary delights and the number of eclectic and diverse dining options grows every year. I’ve had my eye on a particular spot since it opened, and finally made a point of stopping by on a lovely Sunday afternoon. Leyla Fine Lebanese Cuisine is much more than fine. The dining experience was a delight from start to finish.
My omnivore companion and I stopped in at the end of brunch and were given the option of ordering from the brunch or regular menu. The brunch menu is light on vegan options other than sides, so we decided to order from the regular menu. The one brunch item we did try was the Mimosa Leyla, a pomegranate twist on the classic brunch beverage. As we perused the menu, our well-informed server brought a side of Pickled Turnips. They were tart with a hint of spice and set the stage for a memorable meal.
Leyla offers both hot and cold appetizers for kicking off your meal. Instead of going with Hummos ($7-9), Baba Ganoosh ($8), or another familiar cold dish, we opted for the Makdoos ($10). The walnut-stuffed eggplant was as delicious as it was beautiful. It and a salad could make a meal. The hot mezza options include Falafel ($7), Fool Mudammas ($7), Balilah ($7), Batata Harra ($9), and Fatteh B laban or B tahini ($12).
While there are several vegetarian and vegan salad and appetizer options, there are only two vegetarian entrees available. I selected the Eggplant Mousakka ($18) and was not disappointed. The braised eggplant, onion, tomato, and chickpea stew was served with rice and made a comforting, filling meal. I intend to enjoy the Vegetarian Plate ($18) on another visit.
If you and your companion cannot decide on what to try, a vegetarian sampler is available for $25 per person. If you need a gluten-free option, Leyla will accommodate.
We decided to end our meal with Lebanese Coffee (straight up or with cardamon). The only vegan dessert option on the menu is sorbet ($8). The $82 final bill is pricey for two, but it was a special occasion and the price point is on par with other upscale establishments around town. Weekday lunch is a more affordable option.
Leyla is located at 298 King Street (just past Liberty) Downtown. It’s open from 11:30 am – 9 pm Sunday through Thursday and 11:30-10 pm on Friday and Saturday. Brunch specials are offered on Sunday until 3 pm. Large parties are welcomed with reservation. Lunch specials and sandwiches are available only on weekdays and take-out. Delivery is available via Quick Foxes.
Stop in and see why Leyla won a 2015 Open Table Diner’s Choice Award.