Garlic and Lemons, Allston, MA

The other day I had a discussion with someone as to what classifies a restaurant as a "hole in the wall". I think we can all agree this classification means that it has to be small in size. But does it also need to be dumpy looking and small in size? Or can it be trendy and modern while not seating many people? I stood my ground that a "hole in the wall" has to be something that looks sort of sketchy and if you were traveling from out of town you'd walk right past it, dismissing it in the name of uncertainty. However, the locals know the real deal. That shady looking spot turns out food that should not be missed.

Garlic and Lemons falls into the category of "hole in the wall" in my book. With only a brightly lit sign to mark its place on Harvard Ave, this small cafeteria-style restaurant doesn't offer many frills. Seating only about 20 guests, the main focus of this small space is the open kitchen and it's your first hint that something good is happening. Rows of crisp and vibrant salads, dips and rice are on display and it's also hard for your eyes to not be drawn to the marry-go-rounds of spinning meats.

Offering vegetarian and meat options of traditional Middle Eastern dishes, not to be missed is the spicy chicken. A neat pile of delicately slivered meat with spiced up ends makes it hard for you to want to try anything else. But please do. The Tabbouleh is full of freshly minced parsley and the Cucumber Salad is spiked with dots of bright and citrusy Sumac. The baba ganoush is fresh and consistently creamy with fresh eggplant and nutty hints of Tahini and the smooth, cooling garlic sauce balances everything right out. The kebabs are rich with Middle Eastern spices and salty, in a good way. Nothing on my plate on any of my visits was left untouched or under appreciated.

There are few restaurants that I frequent in the city and that's certainly not to be a knock on the food scene here in Boston. There's just so many places to try and it seems a new one is popping up every other week and for that reason, I don't like to go to the same place twice. There's just too much to explore. (Okay, well not that often at least). Garlic and Lemons is the exception to that rule. Maybe it's not fair for me to be partial to this place because I have a well defined soft-spot for that whole Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Cuisine, which I could eat daily and be a happy girl. On the other hand, because of that reason, I've eaten at many places offering up a similar type of fare and I don't know what it is, but Garlic and Lemons is notch above most others in the same category.

Garlic 'N Lemons Acosta Jr on Urbanspoon


dan said...

Best food in the city is on that corner. There are about 20 "hole in the wall" places that crank out amazing stuff time after time. and it's all cheap! I'm sad that I am moving out of this neighborhood :(

Boston Food Diary said...

I've been meaning to get to Garlic and Lemons for over a year now- for shame I know! I'll definitely have to head there now!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I agree with Dan's comment above! I work in Allston and it's great to have all these hole in the wall options.

kitchenmisfit said...

I used to walk by their bright sign all the time. Next time I'm craving some takeout I might have to order from here!

Sarah @ Semi-Sweet said...

Too funny that you just did this! Searching for something very low-key for tomorrow's date night and this place has been on my to-try list forever . . . went to Urban Spoon and lookie who's been? Now I REALLY want to go. Great review. Hope you're doing well!

Susan Gamble said...

Interesting post. The food delicious and pleasing to see. Great blog!

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