If you need more proof that Lindenhurst is becoming a hip culinary hub, look no further than Taheni Mediterranean Grill, an import from Brooklyn’s up-and-coming Gowanus neighborhood. It joins Restoration Kitchen & Cocktails, WA Meadwerks, 27A Brewing, Bakuto and Hermanas Kitchen & Cocktails as a trip-worthy dining destination.
The focus at Taheni (named after the ubiquitous sesame-seed paste) is on pita sandwiches, salads, platters and wraps (like burritos, but grilled, post-wrap). All can be had with falafel, kofte (minced, seasoned beef) or grilled lamb, beef or shawarma-seasoned chicken. Sides include hummus, babaganoush, tabbouleh and labneh. This is the only place on Long Island I’ve seen the snack-sized flatbreads manakish (filled with zaatar, tomato and feta cheese and olive oil) and musakhan (chicken, caramelized onions and sumac).
In fact, when you scratch the menu’s surface, you discern what sets Taheni apart from other Long Island restaurants serving Mediterranean / Middle Eastern food: the cuisine here is typical of the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Iraq) and not of Turkey or Iran, whose culinary traditions are related but distinct. (Read more about differences here.) Taheni is owned by the Deib family, originally from the town of Mas-ha, a Palestinian village in the West Bank. Now they live in Bay Shore.
The first Taheni opened on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn in 2017, a second opened in Midtown Manhattan’s Turnstyle Market two years later. Malek Deib, manager at Lindenhurst, explained that he was the eldest of nine children and so there is plenty of woman- and manpower to go around. A fourth location, in East Northport, is in the works for 2021. Deib said that the kitchen in Lindenhurst is currently working toward making its own pita and flatbread — as the Brooklyn store does.
For now, Lindenhurst is the only Taheni that is making milkshakes. I was initially skeptical of but ultimately won over by the baklava shake.
Despite the unassuming location (next to a discount auto parts store on Montauk Highway), the roomy shop has a rough-hewn elegance, with a few spaced-out tables for people who want to eat in. There’s also ample parking for people who want to take out, and delivery orders can be placed via phone or Grubhub.
Taheni is at 296 E Montauk Hwy., Lindenhurst, 631-412-3635, taheni.com