Lauren Westmoreland Baronet's stuffed squash. Photo by Collin Richie.

Bring on the baklava: Lebanese cuisine for dining in and out

Food is more than a life-giving necessity. Rather, it’s inextricably linked to the social aspect of human society. The traditions that have come to surround both the ritual of sitting down to meals, as well as the dishes that are served, not only helps to define cultures, but also keep them alive. In our March issue, inRegister explored the heritage and history of Lebanese cuisine in Baton Rouge by talking to families that are carrying on the age-old practices. From monthly kibbeh get-togethers to casual afternoons cooking, people like Nelson Dakmak, Joyce Westmoreland, Dede Ferrara and Lauren Westmoreland Baronet share the ways in which food, as well as the time-intensive process that goes into its creation, continues to bring local families together through shared histories and experiences.

Joyce Westmoreland, Dede Ferrara and Lauren Westmoreland Baronet spend time together in the kitchen. Photo by Collin Richie.

The families in the March cover story are focused on home cooking, with Lauren Westmoreland Baronet sharing some of her families recipes for three Lebanese staples: stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage rolls and stuffed squash. Ideal for spending afternoons together, the dishes mentioned here are meant to not only taste delicious, but to carve out time for people to spend together. However, if you’d rather spend your time around the dining table instead of the kitchen island, Baton Rouge has a robust Lebanese restaurant scene, with options for any time frame on any side of town. We rounded up a few of our favorites below. Click the restaurant names for location, full menus and more information:

Jordanian Lebanese Cuisine

Located near LSU on Nicholson Drive, this restaurant opened last year and has quickly become a favorite for many. Praised for its level of freshness, as well as its array of spicy dishes, this place offers both traditional Lebanese and Jordanian dishes, setting it apart from others on the local scene. Bonus: the restaurant hosts weekly belly dancing performances on Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m.

Dish to try: Jalapeño hummus and wash it down with some Jordanian tea

Photo by Malarie Zaunbrecher.

Albasha Greek & Lebanese Restaurant

Whether you want a tablecloth-type dining experience, a quick bite for lunch, or dinner on the go, Albasha has an option for everyone. Recently opening an express location on Nicholson Drive, the restaurant chain is continuing to deliver its quality takes on classic Lebanese favorites like gyro, hummus and grape leaves. We suggest dining in at least once to experience the friendly wait staff.

Dish to try: Vegetarian plate

Vegetarian plate. Photo courtesy Albasha Greek & Lebanese, Walker.

Serop's Café

A Baton Rouge staple since 1979, Serop's claims to have popularized the go-to Lebanese dish, chicken shawarma, in the Capital City. With seven locations--many of them express, making for easy lunch spots--Serops is one of the biggest Mediterranean chains in the city, but that doesn't affect its quality. The restaurant prides itself on its ingredients and consistency.

Dish to try: Chicken shawarma

[caption id="attachment_64019" align="alignnone" width="1080"] Photo courtesy Serop's Express Coursey Boulevard.[/caption]

Atcha Bakery & Café

This restaurant is a hidden gem near LSU’s campus. Described as a “happy accident” by one Yelp reviewer, Atcha is unassuming from the exterior but makes up for its curb appeal with its food. In addition, it is known for its affordable prices and shockingly large serving sizes.

Dish to try: Walnut baklava

Photo courtesy Yelp.

Did we forget someone on this list? Tag us on Instagram at @inRegister to let us know your favorite places for Mediterranean cuisine.

Also, learn more about Lebanese tradition in Baton Rouge in the March issue of inRegister, on newsstands now.