Byblos Deli, Cleveland Park

I stopped by Byblos Deli today, and was instantly struck by the age-old dinginess of the place. Honestly, I’m surprised this restaurant is only ten years old – the last time I had this feel was in China Cafe in College Park.

A gentleman, perhaps Chef Adas, looking like a pirate, was working the counter, and I’d hoped to get one of his daily Lebanese specials. Nothing in the entire restaurant is priced over $9.50 (note, their website menu has slightly out-of-date pricing). Unfortunately, today’s special was the half chicken, and I just wasn’t in the mood for chicken.

So I ordered my can of Diet Coke ($1), a Sambousek ($1.50), and a Gyro ($6.95) to go – if I hadn’t gotten the soft drink, I would have had change from my ten-dollar bill.

There’s a certain “human trust” that takes place in restaurants. When you’re driving down the interstate at 2 AM, and stop at a Burger King, eating inside your car in the dark of night, you’re honoring your half of an implicit pact the restaurant makes with you that the food is edible, and that unspeakable things weren’t done to it (you wouldn’t know otherwise).

This is the first time in several years I’ve had pre-purchased gyro from a spit, and I’d forgotten just how fatty it can be – same goes with the sambousek filled with ground lamb. Based on what I got, I’m assuming the gyro was shaved, then grilled on the flat-top – the meat in both items was very greasy, too greasy, but the gyro meat was crisped, and had a healthy dose of black pepper to cut through it – the sandwich was also slathered with tzatziki and assorted food-service accoutrements.

Honestly, while I was driving, I gave the pita a thorough once-over to ensure no mold was on it (I’m scarred forever from an experience I once had at a top area Lebanese restaurant), and there wasn’t – the restaurant had upheld its half of the pact as well. The only bad thing I can say about this meal (really now, what can you say about such inexpensive food?) is that – and I hesitate to use this word, but in this case it holds true – it was a gut-buster. Very heavy and fatty meat, and I didn’t quite finish my gyro (mainly because of Gravity-Sink – a phenomenon which takes place almost exclusively in cars).

So, nothing much to note about Byblos except how inexpensive it was, and that the gentleman working the register was very pleasant, and he seemed like he might have been the owner – he was an authentic, grizzled pro, you could tell. This is the type of restaurant that really doesn’t need to be written about, and probably couldn’t care less if they were – my instinct is that the daily specials are the way to go here for a cheap, filling meal tailored to hungry people on a budget.

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