Best Of 2012

Best Middle-Eastern Restaurant: The Vine Mediterranean Cafe & Market

Amid the bustle of South Grand Boulevard, the Vine is an oasis. Even on the enclosed patio in front of the restaurant, you feel transported — if not to another land altogether (you can't quite ignore the sound of St. Louis traffic), than at least to a mental space where for an hour or so nothing matters but the delicious Lebanese food being served to you. Even a simple appetizer of hummus or lebneh sets the Vine apart: Either dip is delicious, and with it comes freshly baked pita bread as tasty as your favorite artisan loaf. The menu ranges from vegetarian and vegan delights like falafel and batata harra (a spicy potato dish) to a carnivore's delight of lamb chops, meat or chicken shawarma and kebabs. Be sure to save room for baklava or another of the housemade desserts. Then again, even if you're full you'll have a hard time resisting them, seeing as how the goods are displayed in the dining room.

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